Tuesday, 26 May 2015


Below is a list of upcoming blog posts.  

Gimble by That Company Called If
Mort by Terry Pratchett
Mercury and Me by Jim Hutton
It's Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini
Man and Superman by George Bernard Shaw
Mañana by William Hjortsberg
To Rise Again at a Decent Hour by Joshua Ferris
Awakened by Autism by Andrea Libutti M.D. 

Reviewing Reviews: Judge or Psychologist
Literal News (June-July ed.)
Creative Writing Advice (June ed.)

Thursday, 21 May 2015

April-May Literal News

Literal News is my bi-monthly digest of, mostly main-stream, book related events.  Anything missing?  Comment below.

New creations:

New Terry Pratchett novel
'The Shepard's Crown' is part of the Tiffany Aching sequence, to be released 10th September, with a pre-orders open here. Read more here.

The Girl in the Spider's Web Continuing Stieg LarssonNew Robert Galbraith/J.K. Rowling book
Will be called 'Career of Evil', to be released this autumn 2015 by Sphere.  Read more here.

Steig Larsson cover released
Will be released this September.  Also, it is worth noting the title of the book has been translated differently from earlier reports.  Read more here.

Far From the Madding Crowd
Thomas Hardy's book has been adapted into a film and is out in cinemas now.  Watch the trailers here; alternative trailer here.

The BBC are producing a one-off film on the lives of the Brontë sisters.
Read more here.

Go Set a Watchman is to be narrated by...
Reese Witherspoon (how lucky is she to read it before everyone else).  Read more here.

Debate over royalties from Goebbels 
A biography of Goebbels which quotes from his diaries, published by Random House, has been sued by Goebbels' estate for royalties.  It is important to note the copyright on Goebbels' diaries are due to run out later this year.  Read more here.  Interestingly, charities are reluctant to accept royalties from the sale of Hitler's Mein Kampf (My Struggle) as seen here.

Time's list of 100 most influential people
There has been a smattering of controversy over the fact that only two authors (supposedly) have been included.  Read more here What are your thoughts on the influence of authors? Is it important? Is there an issue? 

London Book Fair has taken place
David Nicholls gave an interesting keynote speech where he compared browsing in bookstores and then buying them from Amazon as a 'genteel form of shoplifting' amongst other things.  Read more here. 

James Rhodes injunction removed
James Rhodes has been allowed to release his autobiography, his ex-wife attempted to stop the publication fearing details about James Rhodes past may upset their son.  The book is to be released 28th May. Read more here. 

Society for Authors elects new council members
Read more here. 

Wellcome Book Trust Annouced
Read more here about the winner, the shortlist and the judges. 

Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize Announced
Read more here. 

International Man Booker Prize Announced
Awarded to Hungarian Laszlo Krasznahorkai for global achievements in fiction. Read more here. 

Baileys Women's Prize for fiction
Read more here.

Odds and ends
Happy man with beard and moustache, surrounded by plantsNew portrait of Shakespeare discovered
Read more here, shown opposite.

Scarthin Bookshop appeal
A bookshop in Derbyshire supporting 100,000 books has taken it's toll on the building and now requires structural repairs (let that be a lessen to all hoarders!).  The Scarthin bookshop has managed to crowd surf  funds for repairs.  Read more here. 

Virginia Woolf's work is adapted into a ballet

Read more here or go direct to the Royal Opera House.

Margaret Atwood is part of the Future Library project
The Future Library project is a collection of unpublished manuscripts being kept in a library in Oslo, which will be released in 2118.  Read more here.

F. Scott Fitzgerald's house is for sale
The house is where he (supposedly) wrote The Great Gatsby.  Read more here.

Past Literal News:
February-March 2015

twitter  |  facebook  |  goodreads  |  bloglovin 

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: TBR To Expand the Mind

The list this week for Top Ten Tuesday is a freebie a.k.a. whatever you want.  One of things that has grated on my nerves during my short life is the constant feeling that my state education was pretty shoddy.  Looking back to the past, writers often boasted of speaking Latin and reading all these great writers.  So, I am on a quest in life to teach myself what I feel like I should be taught at some point in my life.  This is my TBR list for my quest to 'expand my mind'.  Any recommendations for non-fiction books you think I should read, especially history, would be throughly appreciated.

1. Freud - The Freud Reader
Reason: a go-to staple who provokes a lot of influence/reaction, positive and negative, in writers.
2. Foucault - Madness and Civilisation
Reason: discusses what it means to be 'mad' and how society/civilisation defines it.
3. Sartre - Existentialism & Humanism 
Reason: argues for existentialism as a way of life, as well as presumably explaining what 'existentialism' means.
4. Germaine Greer - The Female Eunuch
Reason: a modern feminist classic

5. John Berger - Ways of Seeing
Reason: although I really didn't enjoy my Philosophy of Perception lectures, but this one addresses the issue of perception in the context of art
6. Oscar Wilde - De Profundis
Reason: a discussion of his homosexuality written during his time in prison
7. Henry David Thoreau - Walden 
Reason: a window into a simpler way of life

8. Hannah Arendt - Eichmann in Jerusalem
Reason: as well as reporting on Eichmann's trial, it also delves into psychological and philosophical questions about evil (The Eichmann Show is well worth a watch too)
9. Niccolò Machiavelli - The Prince
Reason: Machiavelli seems to be everywhere, even in some of Terry Pratchett's writings, what does it really mean to be a Machiavellian character?
10. Frantz Fanon - The Wretched of the Earth 
Reason: this is an in-depth look at the consequences of imperialism on the individual and Africa

Honourable Mentions

Carl Jung
Daniel Goleman - Emotional Intelligence
Ben Goldacre - Bad Pharma 
Stephen Hawkings - A Brief History of Time
Simon Sebag Montefiore - Jerusalem The Biography
Sun Tzu - The Art of War
Owen Jones - The Establishment

twitter  |  facebook  |  goodreads  |  bloglovin 

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Creative Writing Advice: "This Next Bit's Really Nice" (May ed.)

Once a month, I will post a few nice things about creative writing. This idea was taken from Channel 4's The Book Group (well worth a watch).  As always, here is my picture meme:

Character reading a book, saying "This next bit's really nice."

Let the madness begin!

James Patterson 

Source: NaNoWrMo

Life is not a plot - no line is ever ended

Source:  FastCoCreate

William Faulkner
Ninety-nine percent talent... ninety-nine percent discipline... ninety-nine percent work. He must never be satisfied with what he does. It never is as good as it can be done. Always dream and shoot higher than you know you can do. Don't bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself.

Neil Gaiman 

Harper Lee
Any writer worth his salt writes to please himself. He writes not to communicate with other people, but to communicate more assuredly with himself. It's a self-exploratory operation that is endless. An exorcism of not necessarily his demon, but of his divine discontent.

Previous editions:
April 2015
March 2015

twitter  |  facebook  |  goodreads  |  bloglovin 

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Authors I REALLY Want To Meet

The list this week for Top Ten Tuesday is Ten Authors I REALLY Want to Meet and I'm going to include those both alive and dead.  I am also going to include a brief daydream about the where and the questions I would like to ask.



1. George R.R. Martin
I am a big fan of the Game of Thrones series. Location: maybe a Comic Con? Question: I have a theory about Jon Snow 'A Song of Ice and Fire' so I would like to ask him if it is true. 

2. Neil Gaiman
Neil Gaiman is super cool; I am really lucky to be able to see him at the Hay Festival this month too. There may be a write up on this, so watch this space!

3. J.R.R. Tolkien
Lord of the Rings brought a lot of joy to my life. Location: probably in a dream. Questions: Why did Aragorn only have one child? What do you think it was that made Aragorn so courageous?

4. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Sherlock is really enjoyable; it is a great distraction and involves brilliant imagination. Question: how do you come up with the clues that Sherlock sees? 


5. E.M. Forster
Forster writes the most beautiful tales; I think this meeting would be more a case of curiosity.  

6. Quentin Tarantino 

Although he is not an author of books, he is an author of excellent scripts.  Location: maybe a bar? Question: How do you keep so grounded and how do you still find the motivation to write? 



7. Mikhail Bulgakov

Bulgakov is an author I really admire for his sheer dedication to writing even when then USSR turned his back on him by banning his writing.  I guess my question would be a rhetorical one: I hope you realise people do love your works; they weren't in vain and they bring a great deal of pleasure.

8.  Bernhard Schlink
Schlink wrote The Reader. I would love to learn German so perhaps the location and questions would be Germany related. 

9. Friedrich Nietzsche 
For those unfamiliar, Nietzsche was a philosopher who wrote in a colossal range of styles, from dialogues to poetry to essays.  I wouldn't really have a question, I would just find it really interesting to see how he would normally speak given his diverse voice.

10. Vladimir Nabokov
What I really admire about Nabokov is his sheer fearless, his ability to write on taboo subjects. Question: do you have any advice for writing so fearlessly?

Thursday, 7 May 2015

The Good Luck of Right Now by Matthew Quick (Republished)

The Good Luck of Right Now by Matthew Quick

Rating: 4 stars out of 5 
(This book was really enjoyable)

Matthew Quick wrote Silver Linings Playbook, which was later adapted into a highly-enjoyable award winning film.  I have to say I was really excited when I first saw this book and I couldn’t wait to read it.  If you are fans of The Curious Incident in the Night Time by Mark Haddon, A Song for Issy Bradley by Carys Bray or The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion then it is likely you will enjoy this book.

The Good Luck of Right Now is the letters from the fictional Bartholomew Neil to Richard Gere.  Bartholomew has recently lost his mother and in his letters, explains to Mr Gere what is happening in his life.  His mother provided Bartholomew with a home and was his main source of social contact.  Naturally, for someone so isolated it was a big upheaval in his life.  It is a very endearing tale and is perfect for a lazy weekend.
"You are my confidant, Richard Gere, and I'm not about to share my pretending with anyone, because pretending often ends when you allow non pretenders access to the better safer worlds you create for yourself."

There aren’t really any themes per se to this book, although it does discuss bad luck and there are a few interesting facts.  The characters are very well written. The story is engaging and I didn’t find myself bored.  One aspect of the plot was predictable and it turned out Bartholomew himself has similar suspicions.  Overall, this was an enjoyable read. 

Thank you to Pan Macmillian who gave me an eGalley through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. NB: this has been republished because Blogger deleted the original post so comments are missing...

Book Facts
Original Publication: 2014
Pages: 304
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Two birds are sitting together

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood

"Now and again we vary the route; there's nothing against it, as long as we stay within the barriers. A rat in a maze is free to go anywhere, as long as it stays inside the maze."

Rating: 5 stars out of 5

The Handmaid’s Tale is the story of Offred (“Of Fred”) a handmaid living in a society based on Genesis 30:1-3; because people struggle to conceive and young women are assigned to (important) men in a bid to increase the population.  Women are essentially a “national resource".

I have to admit, I was not looking forward to reading this book.  This was a book I was intending to leave until the end mainly because reading about graphic violence towards women leaves me feeling more than green.  However, the PTB at the Classics Club picked this number on the #ccspin.  This book wasn’t what I expected.  This book is for fans of The Road, both are books based on real possibilities that are a psychological horror/thriller.

The first thing that grabbed me was the quality of the writing.  Atwood is frequently described as “astute” and rightly so.  Each sentence and paragraph flows beautifully.  There is a unique perceptive where Atwood is able turns words, their meanings and associations on their heads. The narrative is four timeframes interwoven together; we get various glimpses of the past, Offred at her current time and immediately before and after her capture.  I felt like I was in a body of water casually drifting along and bumping into the same objects over and over again.  It definitely made the story more interesting.  If you love the writing style of books, then this is a must-read.

The theme obviously concerned the oppression of women.  There are two aspects that I found most thought provoking, which I will concentrate on.  First, is Atwood’s treatment of Christianity.  You could easily assume that Atwood has manipulated a passage of the Bible to show pursue an anti-Christian agenda.  This is far from the truth; it is clear that the terrorists used the passage as a vehicle to push forward a patriarchal state.  There are also examples of Christians and other religions that exhibit good behavior.  Overall, this book is well-balanced.

The other thing that was thought provoking was the sheer ignorance and lack of resistance leading up to the terrorist take over.

"They said it would be temporary. There wasn't even any rioting in the streets. People stayed at home at night, watching television, looking for some direction. There wasn't even an enemy you could put your finger on."

I asked myself “Would I stand up? What difference would I make?”

This book is dark and heavy; if you do read it, I would suggest having some chocolate or something as a pick me up and I wouldn’t read it if you are in a bad place.  (As an aside, I think books with upsetting content should have a blue dot sticker.  The notion of trigger warnings should be applied to books.)  Despite it being emotionally draining, it is one I enjoyed and would thoroughly recommend.

This book is available to buy here, where I receive a small commission.  Money raised will be used to fund giveaways.

Book Facts
Original Publication: 1986
Pages: 324
Publisher: Vintage
Publication Date: 1996