Review: The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson

The Madness Underneath Maureen Johnson

 


I enjoyed this book, but felt I could have gained more from this plot wise. 

The book lifts off three weeks after the end of the first book and Rory is dealing with many emotional things as a result. She is home in Bristol and receiving therapy for what everyone believes to be a Ripper attack, when in actual fact, Rory is the only one around her who knows the truth. That Alexander Newman, the Ripper impressionist, was a ghost and because she killed him (again) she was now a terminus herself. Cut off from Stephen, Boo and Callum, Rory is finding it difficult to deal with but is sent back to Wexford at the beginning of the novel.

This book mostly consists of us discovering more about Rory as a character, as she deals with romance issues, dropping grades and a bucket full of ghosts to boot!

I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys ghost fiction or has read the first book.

I feel that this book shifted to a character driven narrative and the plot took a sideline, I would have liked there to be more of a balance between the two elements.

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Review: Caleb Williams by William Godwin

Caleb Williams William Godwin

 
This review will look at the entirety of the books contents because it is a classical piece. I don’t, however, what to spoil anything for anyone who hasn’t read the book so if you wish to continue it is at your own risk with the knowledge that spoilers will occur.
Caleb Williams follows the protagonist through his discovery of a big secret his master, Falkland, has kept from the world. It also looks at how this affects Caleb’s life after this discovery and also focuses on the power of the mind, especially when he is imprisoned. Caleb is framed by Falkland because of his discovery (which I will avoid mentioning if at all possible so there is still an air of mystery to the novel) and taken to jail, where his character grows and learns how his curiosity lead him to this point.
One of the big parts of the book is that the main characters in the novel all have a different hubris. For Caleb it is his curiosity; for Falkland, his pride; and for Tyrrel, it is his anger. These dominant characteristics are what leads to the downfall of each character and they are all very human, very ‘sinful’ flaws. But the difference lies in Caleb’s self-reflection during his time in prison, where he maintains his homosocial affection for Falkland despite their disagreement.
One part of Caleb’s personality that I find oddly admirable is his loyalty towards Falkland. It isn’t until the very end of the book where he reveals the secret, which inevitably leads to Falkland’s death. He keeps this despite all of the torment he is being put through and this is something that I find both very stupid but very loyal.
The book is sectioned into three parts and the first details many circumstances that led up to the happening of the secret and in this time, I grew to favour the character of Emily. She is Tyrrel’s ward and her personality is very kind and likeable but also very passionate. She defies Tyrrel when he wants to marry her off, to the extent where she runs away. However, this ordeal leads her to fall ill and unable to recover. I sympathise with Emily because she stands up for her beliefs in a true feminist fashion but she is persecuted by Tyrrel for doing so. This could also be where my dislike of Tyrrel comes from.
Overall, this book illustrated to me the power of wealth and the mind but also that pride can be a melancholy attribute.
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New Year’s Resolutions of 2013

Happy New Year everybody! Here are my new years resolutions:

Misc:
  • Take more pictures
  • Learn more technical information about photography

Reading:

  • Read 50 Books (5 classics, 5 debuts, 5 of a genre I wouldn’t normally read)
  • Review Every Book I Read  (Blog or Video)

Writing:

  • Write one blog a week
  • Finish my novel
  • Write 5 short stories

Misc:

  • Lose another Stone
  • Draw More
  • Learn to play the guitar

 

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Review: The World’s Wife by Carol Ann Duffy

The Worlds Wife Carol Ann Duffy

It’s not often that I find a full collection of poetry by a poet to intrigue me. I normally find two or three that catch my eye, but I find I prefer to read a breadth of poets. However, every so often I come across a collection that is so well collated and has a brilliant meaning that I can’t help but get excited by reading it.

Carol Ann Duffy’s The World’s Wife does just that. The collection takes figures from factual, fictional, mythical and fairy tale history, such as Little Red Riding Hood, Dr. Faustus and Freud, and creates a feminist viewpoint. The poems are written from the view of these figures (if they are already female), their wife’s or have been portrayed as female themselves (The Kray Sisters). The poems can be sinister like Mrs Faust or romantic like Anne Hathaway and are chosen for the topic of discussion of many academic curriculum because of their feminist approach.

My favourite of the collection has to be Anne Hathaway. Shakespeare’s romances have wooed us all for just under 400 years. Whether they end tragically or romantically, we remember them because of his lyrical writing skill and I think Duffy attempts to imitate this with her extended metaphor for Shakespeare’s work and their sex life. He bequeathed his wife their second best bed and the poem stems from this one line of his will; this is one of the reasons I love this poem so much.

Anyone that knows me personally is aware that my favourite Disney film is The Beauty and the Beast. So naturally, I was very intrigued by Duffy’s take on the tale, in the form of Mrs Beast. This poem was quite a refreshing surpise for me with cameos from The Little Mermaid and Goldilocks etc. It takes the Prince and Princess ‘lifestyle’ and bears all its hidden animosity. Claiming that sex with the Beast is better, Duffy uses fairytales to bring to light the truth about love and how you should see all the sides to a person before you get into a complex relationship with them.

These are just a couple of the poems that I found stuck out for me in the collection, but there are plenty more brilliant pieces, such as Little Red Cap and Mrs Midas, that I also really enjoyed and suggest you check out.

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NaNoWriMo: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.

I have only participated in National Novel Writing Month once (which was 2 years ago now) and I did
thoroughly enjoy taking the time to do so. There was a feeling of elation as I hit 50,000 words that
cannot be compared to any other achievement.

For those unaware, NaNoWriMo is a challenge set to people, who may or may not consider
themselves to be writers, to write a novel in 30 day. For the purpose of the challenge, a novel is
distinguished as 50,000 words, which works out at around 1667 words a day.

NaNoWriMo is a good way to break the barriers of writer’s block, not having time or not being
focused enough and I learnt from it that if I really focus on something that I could actually write a
novel if I wanted to. And I do want to.

On the other hand, I do find that NaNoWriMo can give people a sense of false hope, insofar as they
believe having written a novel in 30 days they are publishable. This is highly unlikely. I’ll be the first
to admit that even though NaNoWriMo was a milestone for me and I’m proud to have completed it,
I wouldn’t dare show anyone the novel that I’d written.

I chose to go over my novel a few months ago to see if it was something that I could pick back up,
because I loved the idea and did think that I could produce some good work with it, if I started from
scratch and really worked through the plot. What I didn’t realise was that I had walked into a 17
year old mind with a somewhat dubious grip of complex grammar and even the odd spelling mistake
(even though I’m an English student, I’m far from excellent and I’ll never be a grammarian). It was
quite an experience.

What I can say is that, looking back on my NaNoWriMo novel has helped me to realise how far I have
progressed as a writer in that period of time and that I now have the ability to go over my work and
edit it to a degree that makes me happy. I also wonder if 21 year old me will go back to the novel
again and wonder what on earth the present me was writing, but I’ll have to wait to find out.

I do advise that you try out NaNoWriMo, they run a ‘camp’ all year round if you can’t participate
in November. I think it is a useful for understanding yourself as a writer. It helps you find out what
makes you tick and motivates you to keep going, because having the motivation to write can be just
as important as the words themselves.

‘This post can also be read at Brit Writers

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Review: Daughter of Smoke and Bone By Laini Taylor

Daughter of smoke and bone laini taylor


Find the book here!

Looking for a wish? Then this book is the exact place to find one.

This book was something I had heard a lot of hype about and was itching to get my hands on so it was only natural that I finished it pretty quickly, because once I picked it up I could hardly put it down. Laini Taylor has created a world where mythical beings take a new perspective and keeping your teeth has never been more important.
So this book follows the life of Karou who was raised by Brimstone a Chimaera and she collects teeth for him in return for wishes. Things become complicated when the Seraphs learn of Brimstone’s existence and before she realises Karou’s life is turned upside down and she has to trust the people she is told to run from. But there are other things that Karou doesn’t know that change her view of the worlds she lives in forever.
I would like to start off my saying that this book was a breath of fresh air because it combined an unusual duo of species that I have never encountered before. Chimaera are beings that have various body parts from several animals. For example, Brimstone has a ram’s head and the legs of a lion. On the other hand Seraphim are similar to angels in so far as that they have wings and they are beings of godly creation. The combination of these characters is really unique and because Karou is of a Chimaera perspective it also challenges the views that people have of angels.
The protagonist Karou is a well-developed character. She has a love of art and languages and, as well as attending art school, she also happens to be an errand girl. With eccentric blue hair, it is easy to tell from the start that she has a unique personality and I would happily spend some time with her at the Poison Kitchen at ‘Pestilence’. She is a dreamer and because of this she is always looking for more from her worlds. She is curious by nature and this leads her into a lot of perilous positions
without realising.
In contrast we are introduced to Akiva a slightly obsessive, stalker Seraph who becomes infatuated with Karou but doesn’t quite know why. The plot thickens significantly when he discovers why she is so important to him and one of my favourite features of the book is the section that introduces us to his past. His character is somewhat dis-likable at the beginning but after this discovery I felt a lot of empathy towards him and genuinely felt sorry for the struggles he faced.

Until next time guys!

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Spoken Word: How different is it?

I’ve often debated about the concept of spoken word poetry. I’ve watched a few performances over the past year and become more open to the idea. I had never read any of my poetry aloud or even contemplated it. But the other day I finally decided to change that. I recorded my first attempt at spoken word poetry. Granted the video was of a poem I wrote over a year ago, but I felt the poem had a sense of intimacy from the speaker that didn’t translate as well when read. This is the video:


For my first attempt, I’m pretty happy with it. Though I doubt I’ll be going to any open mic nights any time soon. I really enjoyed getting to add my personal touch to the voice of the poem. As a person who studies English and has a particular interest in speech and voice I really enjoyed considering each line and how to enunciate them.

I’m definitely considering doing more spoken word, but mostly to get feedback on what people think of my … I guess you would call it a performance. So if you would like to give me any feedback I would greatly appreciate it.

Some of the major differences I found between writing poetry and attempting to read it aloud were as follows:

1 – Syllables:
I always knew syllables where important to poetry. Finding you’ve managed to remember the difference between iambs, trochees, dactyls and anapaests, can feel like quite the achievement when writing. Sonnets make this feat particularly evident. I especially found this noteworthy when reading aloud because I had set the poem to a structure of 3 stanzas, 22 lines a stanza and 10 syllables in the first stanza decreasing by one syllable each stanza. I thought this came through very well when spoken because the lines became shorter and more intense as the poem continued. This reflected in my speech as I spoke the stanzas progressively faster.

2 – Syntax:
Some of the lines of the poem seemingly flowed well when written such as “That are embedded
forever, n’er to be shredded;
of a lust so blind that it burns
backstabbing like a branch from firs.”
This section of the first stanza I thought read quite well. However, in reality when I spoke this section it seemed quite irregular. A lot of the time poetry does deviate from regular syntax because it creates an interesting and emotive perspective but I felt this section didn’t really work the way I had hoped it would.

3 – Change of Voice:
In the second stanza we hear a couple of lines for the object of the poem. The male past lover. This is a bit more difficult to pick out when you’re speaking because there’s only really two ways you could go about it; change your appearance or voice. I did neither of these because it was only after I uploaded the video that I really noticed this part.

So I’ve decided I’m definitely going to make more of these videos and I’m looking forward to developing my spoken word style as well as start writing some more poetry because its been quite a while now since I wrote a poem. I went from writing one every day to writing none at all. I think I’ve taken a long enough break now to try and get myself back into a creative mindset. That is, before university comes and stomps all over it again.

Take care people!

Kyra xx

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