The Butchers Hook – Janet Ellis – A Review

* This Review Contains Spoilers* I AM going to discuss the ending*

Once again I have been bitten by the cruel mistress that is over hype. Many were the praises for this book described as bloody, dark, weird and murderous. Exactly my cup of tea right? WRONG! whilst I began the books basically hoping for a Georgian American Psycho with boobies, what I actually got was a book that seemed to drag on forever and quite frankly, I doubt it would even make my grandma flinch.

We follow the tale of Anne Jaccob, a well to do teenager who is promised to a snobbish arsehole called onions, but little Anne instead fancies a bit of the butcher boy Fub, who of course is far too much of a peasant for her to have any kind of future with. Anne is your typical gothic weirdo, she spits on lengths of own hair and uses it to make a necklace, keeps a dead mouse under her bed and acts like a bitch to most people she encounters. She hasn’t had a great life, as this book likes to remind us her baby brother is dead, her father is void of any affection and is generally a dick to everyone, her mother has pushed out so many children that there isn’t much of her left and her childhood tutor gave her some very dubious lesson in human anatomy.  Unfortunately, Anne was not the kick – ass anti-hero I hoped she would be. In her defense, Anne’s use of her menstrual cycles as a weapon of mass awkwardness did make me chuckle but most of the time, there wasn’t that much to like about her. Her obsessions with Fub was a typical first love, dying to get my hand on him kind of romance with a bit of standardised weirdness thrown in, but again nothing new to see here folks!

Oh and the promise of murder? you are going to have to drag your arse through 250 pages of this 342 page novel before you get a whiff of any decent stabby bits.

Much like Anne rattling around her big fancy house, I was bored and on numerous occasions I nearly did not finish this book. Also (spoiler alert) the ending was terrible. when you do get to the murderey bit of the book the delightful Anne has killed more than one person and this includes a small child in order to try and protect her obsessive passionate, romance with Fub.  Anne painfully whines for him and essentially he dominates her world. But after a lovers tiff at the back door and finding a purse full of coins on her bed Stabby Annie put all 300 pages of fucking romantic angst to one side and wanders off down the streets of London to start a new life without a trace of Fub or his hanging meat in her mind. I mean really WTF?!  This ending enraged me.

To summarise, I didn’t enjoy this book but I know many people did. Once again I find myself looking for new reading opportunities, rocking in the corner and repeating the same mantra DON’T BELEIVE THE HYPE.

P.S Book has a nice cover.

 

Grace x

 

 

 

 

 

The Book Collector – Alice Thompson – A Review

Confession time… My knowledge of classic fairy tales is more that a little restricted, of course as a child I absorbed every reworked, watered down and sugared up Disney tale that was placed in front of me, However, the classic fairy tale section of my never ending “to be read” list has just not been reached. Also, the fairbook collector.jpegy tale retelling industry seems to have been drowned by the YA scene and to be honest I’d rather stick on a pair of magical red shoes and dance until I need someone to chop my feet off than force my way through YA. These reasons are probably why I have yet to fully sink my teeth into the Fairy Tale genre.

So when I was given Alice Thompsons, The Book Collector as a birthday gift I was keen to see if such a gothic fairy inspired novel would be understood by my Disney mutilated brain. Not only did I understand it, I adored it.

Set in a bountiful country estate pre-world war one, this story focuses on the seemingly perfect Edwardian marriage of Violet, who has recently given birth to her beautiful baby boy. The more we read the more we learn about the obsessive and horror filled life Violet found herself in. Murder, mutilation, asylums and betrayals are key players in this story. This is definitely a book for grown-ups.

In this books slim 160 pages, you find endless haunting and brutal motifs, which create a strong theme without beating you over the head or alienating a non-Grimm obsessed audience. The slightness of this book makes for a rapid and fast paced read which will leave you feeling creeped out and uncomfortable in the best way possible.

The only thing I will say is don’t expect to be surprised or shocked by the storyline, the are some revelations that will leave you twitching, but the beautiful narrative does not need to lean on dramatic twists.

my only wish for this book is that it was more fleshy, I would have loved it to be a little longer with more history to each of its vivid characters, but overall I found this story thrilling and haunting and I am looking forward to reading more fairy tale reworkings. Just not the YA Kind.

Gracie X

According to the Daily Mail, Laurence Simpson, A review .

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As some of you may be aware, the narrow-browed, hypocritical, fearmongering fascist rag otherwise known as the Daily Mail has recently been declared as a ‘fake news’ source by Wikipedia. I’m not going to be impartial, I despise the Daily Mail. It is the very embodiment of hypocrisy. A coin, one side a shouting, angry face screeching about immigrants and cancer and homosexuals. The other, a greasy, creepy man, pointing out the ‘curvaceous’ figure of the newest non-celebrity. Also, what is with the Daily Mail jumping at the NHS with claws at the ready whenever they get the chance? Criticising everything, they do and say. I mean, come on! The NHS needs our support, not to be berated by raging cock-wombles at every turn. I hate it with an almost unbridled passion and that is why I was so happy to stumble across Simpson’s According to the Daily Mail. So, due to recent events in the news print world, it seems all too relevant to write a review of this amusing yarn.

The novel follows Johnathan, a middle-age man, like most, hates the Daily Mail. He, by a series of events comes into a large amount of money. Then he sets out to destroy the Daily Mail, followed swiftly by all the other paper masquerading as ‘news’. What follows is a Benny Hill style caper that forces Johnathan and his cohorts to outwit the police and get away with the crime of the century!

It all sounds a bit twee but honestly it is an enjoyable read! Simpson’s distain for the Daily Mail is evident, and the story is basic in premise. But it didn’t have to be some thinly veiled metaphor about a forest and anthropomorphic creatures conspiring against an especially capricious vole. Simpson has managed to fill this amusing book with a clear, concise message that manages to entertain and at no point feels preachy. Yes, it’s clear that he doesn’t approve of the Daily Mail, but it never feels like he’s ramming “you buy the Mail you are bad” mentality down your throat. Throw in a handful of likeable characters, a satisfying plot arc and a fitting ending and you have a great book.

Let’s not lie to ourselves, According to the Daily Mail isn’t going to win the Pulitzer prize for literature. But, it is well written, funny and is accessible. Some books that try and convey a message hide it behind walls and walls of imagery and metaphor that their ideology can become diluted. Be this because the author wants to flex their writing muscles, or that they are afraid of the repercussions that may arise from making such a bold statement. Simpson is quite happy to walk up and slap down how he feels on the table and doesn’t care who he pisses off. That I admire.

So, if you want an entertaining romp, destroying the British tabloid, then give it a go. You will laugh and you will put it down with a smile on your face. However, if you’re not a fan of satire or you are a diehard Daily Mail fan, then perhaps give this a bit of a wide berth. Thumbs up from me, enjoy with a glass of red wine. Or at a EDL rally.

 

Ben

 

P.S. Sorry if I went on a bit at the start of this piece!

Cove – Cynan Jones – A review

cove

When I read a book I generally have an idea of what I am letting myself in for. I can gather a vague understanding of the themes, motifs and symbols that will arise. I will also have an idea of the way it will be written. For example, I know that if I read an E.L James novel, it will be shit. I have never read anything by Cynan Jones before and I went into it with no prior knowledge of him. This is how I believe you should read his work. Read it blind. Do your research beforehand and you’ll be confused and ultimately disappointed. Go blind and you will love the sublimely crafted, minimalist text. Jones has no words that are pointless. Every word carries as much poignancy and gravitas as the previous. Done so to strip the story of skin and bone, to lead you to the heart of this great book.

I picked up Cove because after adding numerous novels to my shopping trolley I stumbled across it. I drew parallels to The Old Man and the Sea and since Hemmingway is one of my favourites, I had to give it a go. I was not disappointed. Cove is a story of a man who has gone out to fish in his kayak and he gets struck by lightning. Then follows his soliloquy of dealing with his current situation and his life at home. That is all I can give in regards to a summary and, honestly, that is all that is needed. If you want a tale filled with well fleshed characters, a fitting conclusion and no straggly ends, give Cove a miss. However, if you love beautifully crafted imagery and symbolism to rival Joseph Heller then do give it a read.

I loved Cove, I thought that it was a wonderful book and clocking in at less than 100 pages means you could read it in your lunch hour. I can’t write masses about it because I want you to read it for yourself. You need to experience this wonderfully different style of writing, you may love it, you may hate it. You won’t know though, until you have given it a go. To surmise, love Hemmingway? Excellent! This is extreme Hemmingway minimalism. Go buy it. Now. The Dig is already in my shopping cart, I’m just waiting for my payday.

Bright Lights, Big City – Jay McInerney – A Review

bright

So, 2017 is well and truly underway. January has passed and Valentine’s Day is rolling up to poke it’s undulating red head of love in your direction. However, some of us are still recovering from the Christmas/ New Year’s Eve hangover that lasts longer as age increases. What better way to celebrate the pounding head and maelstrom stomach then a book that is one hangover interconnected by days? Bright Lights, Big City is just that book. The tale of a 24-year-old living in New York, consuming cocaine and looking for a lady to bed down with by night and performing terribly at his job by day. All the while obsessing over his wife and the ‘sexual abandonment’ she has forced upon him.

Bright Lights, Big City, is essential the disillusionment felt by many living in the city. How the city is precisely what is stated in the title; bright lights a big city and not a lot else. How all the clubs and drinks and drugs cannot stifle the eventual collapse of one’s soul. The Narrator has dreams of elevating himself to a level he knows he can achieve. Attempting to write a novel and join the ranks of the writer’s elite. Failing to acknowledge that the prose he articulates in his mind could be transcribed to paper to make a more than adequate novel.

The novel itself is incredibly short, clocking in at 174 pages making it possible to read through in one evening. This could instil a sense of apprehension in some as is a classic really a classic if it isn’t 896 pages long and contains enough characters to fill a medium sized village in Somerset? If you have any doubts then please put them aside to read Bright Lights, Big City. The novel is perfectly long to convey the intended message. If it was any lengthier then the sense of passing, the fleeting moment of living at the time, would become dissolved. The Narrators life quickly spirals out of control in the short time that we know him and if the book was longer how we could we truly appreciate that urgency?

I liked Bright Lights, Big City. It is without question a great novel. Full of wonderfully evocative language and executed in a manner that makes you truly appreciate the moment and what it must’ve been like. The best way to describe Bright Lights, Big City is that it’s like Bret Easton Ellis but focuses on a different world, a different class and culture of people. Very good, would recommend with two double vodkas and ice.

Ben

Fellside- M.R Carey – A Review

fellside

A Few months ago, like most of the book reading community, I fell arse over tit in love with M.R Carey’s Debut novel. The Girl with all the gifts, was creepily awesome and when I discovered Fellside on Amazon I ordered it immediately.

Fellside is a maximum security prison in the Yorkshire moors, a creepy and disturbed place with a seedy, ugly micro-culture all its own. Heroin addict Jess Moulson finds herself here after a terrifying night she can not quite remember. Stuffed with brutally tortured characters, whispering walls and stacks of unanswered questions the twisted mystery’s in this book has me hooked from the very beginning.

As with the Girl with all the gifts, there is more than a splash of gore, however, Fellside has a kick ass personality all its own. I managed to consume all 468 pages within three days following the breakneck speed in which the characters lives shift. This is one of those stories when just as you think you have worked out what is going on, a new revelation will leave you feeling like your brain Is made of mash potato…In a good way.

If like me you were obsessed with the early 2000’s British drama Bad Girls, this is a book you should definitely get stuck into.Image result for bad girls tv series

 

M.R Carey is quickly becoming an auto-buy author for me. His writing style is simple but drip feeds you complex themes. I am thoroughly looking forward to his next novel ‘The Boy on The Bridge’ which is to be released this year.