Top 5 – Non-Fiction Books.

As a avid book lover, I’ve always got a book or some sort of reading material about my person. And despite being a huge fiction fanatic, I’ve found myself branching more and more into non-fiction literature. Whether it be self-help books, scientific theory, conspiracy novels or just autobiographies, I find it to be a welcome read when the world of fiction overwhelms me.

So inspired by Carrie Hope Fletcher’s recent ‘Books that have Changed my Life’ , I’ve decided to jot down my favourite non-fiction books.

1: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank.

A timeless book that deserves a reread throughout the years. Sensitively written, very descriptive and one of those books that just stays with you. Anne Frank is one of my personal heroes, and her story is not only timeless, but translateable across any age, gender and background. A story about survival, love, loss and growing up during Nazi Germany.61ekmew9gsl-_sy344_bo1204203200_

2: Nicholas and Alexandra by Robert K. Massie.

This biography of the last Tsar of Russia and his family is easy to read, full of digestible information and good enough for any budding Russian historians, or modern history fans. Despite having a collection of over 100 books on the Romanovs, I always credit this book as being my favourite, and thoroughly recommend it to anyone.

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3: Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell

As one of my favourite authors, George Orwell’s way of writing will always hit a very personal vibe with me. His writing about experiencing the Spanish Civil War show the brutality of the war, along with the bravery of local people. A must read if you’re interested in war, politics, Stalinism or literature.9780141183053

4: In Cold Blood by Truman Capote.

Known as the first ‘faction’/’non-fiction novel’, this story is Capote’s account of murder in a small town community, and the shockwaves it sends through the community. Highly researched and depicted through films like Capote and Infamous, this novel is very addictive, fairly sensitive and features backstories on the murderers unlike you’ve ever read before.

A brilliant, brilliant book.

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5: Hungry by Crystal Renn.

This is a must-have book for anyone who’s interested in the beauty/fashion industry, along with the very social media tag #effyourbeautystandards. Crystal Renn was cited as an up-and-coming supermodel, but told to lose weight. Due to the pressure of the job, Crystal soon developed a series of eating disorders.
This book is fascinating for any one who is struggling with their weight and being accepted into society. Despite Crystal no longer being the size 16 plus-size model she once was famed to be, I find it still very relevant as a memoir.

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Disclaimer – all opinions, favourites and views are my own.

So these are my favourite non-fiction books. I’ve been really enjoying doing these Top 5 posts. Let me know if you have any suggestions for the next load!

 

Top 5 Books – Classic Literature.

 

Apologies for the lack of posting. My work has been hectic, and I’m taking a much deserved family holiday this week. A regular blogging schedule will resume soon.

To me, classic literature doesn’t mean it’s just old literature, but something that will echo for generations to come. Whether it be remarkably forward science fiction, or acts of romance that make people swoon, or just stories with morals, my top 5 list is my interpretation of literature that people should read in their lifetime.

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1: Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

A personal favourite, this novel is grand and sweeping. A dazzling romance set in one of America’s most brutal and blood-thirsty periods, Gone with the Wind shows a civilisation and time that has now disappeared. It’s a tale of survival and new beginnings for one Southern Belle, who changes from being a pampered mistress to a fighter in the Deep South.

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2: 1984 by George Orwell

This novel is one I can read time over time over time again. An alternative yet familiar world, 1984 set the bar for dystopian literature. With forbidden romances, government control, cult leadership and surveillance taking over the world, 1984 is one of those novels that will broaden your mind forever, and make you realise that Big Brother really could be watching you.

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3: Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

Set in the sublime and wild Yorkshire Moors, Wuthuring Heights is a classic tale of revenge and obsession. With a multi-generational family, gothic overtones, physical and mental cruelty, Wuthering Heights tugs at the very extremes of nature vs nurture. A fantastic book.

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4: Hamlet by William Shakespeare

Another tale of revenge, tragedy and ghostly happenings. Hamlet is a classic for its use and portrayal of madness and murder, and with famous soliloquies surrounding dreams, death and life, Hamlet also offers an insight into the human condition.

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5: Dracula by Bram Stoker

Another personal favourite, and subject of my dissertation. Dracula has set standards for the vampire novel, as well as being a staple in the gothic genre. The novel also focuses on Victorian ideas of masculinity, femininity, religion, science and invasion from foreign shores, and with a host of excellent characters and bone-chilling moments, you won’t forget Dracula in a hurry.

 

These are my top 5 choices for Classic Literature, and if you have any personal choices/opinions, don’t hesitate in letting me know.

 

Top 5 Books- Fantasy Sagas

Now, I’m a girl who loves a good fantasy series. Fantasy books and television series can transport you to new worlds, and through the characters you grow to love, or hate, you can witness political backstabbing, murders, battles and mythical beasts.

So, in this Top 5 post, I thought I’d give my favourite fantasy book sagas, for any readers who have yet to stumble upon this genre.

1: A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R Martin.a_song_of_ice_and_fire_by_ertacaltinoz-d9fzd8e

I’ve actually done a full review of this book saga on my blog, so I won’t go too in-depth here. So what I will say is this book saga is excellent and intricate. Wars, old grudges and bloodlust makes for very interesting reading, and the saga has been made into an award-winning television series. I would rate this a very obvious staple choice if you want to read any fantasy at the moment.

2: The Kingkiller Chronicle by Patrick Rothfuss.

the_kingkiller_chronicle_one_and_twoWith two novels published in this soon-to-be trilogy, this saga is a favourite of mine. The story-telling is good, the plot is highly enjoyable and the fact of it being somewhat of a biography for the main character, a mysterious figure known as Kvothe, makes me love it more. I have read and reread this story, and I still find it as enjoyable as when I first picked it up. If you like high fantasy, excellent writing and a host of unique characters, I suggest this.

3: His Dark Materials by Phillip Pullman.51sf-9svtul-_sx319_bo1204203200_

This is a book series you just have to read. And don’t be put off by the bad adaptation of the first book. His Dark Materials really transcend all age ranges and different audiences. Featuring alternative worlds, witches, polar bear warriors and battles with God and religion, this saga is not only brilliant at world-building, but the writing is easy enough for young teenagers to understand.

4: 200px-thewayofkingsThe Stormlight Archives by Brandon Sanderson.

Once again, I’ve done a review on the first book here, but this series really deserves to be on this list. World-building in this series is done masterfully, and if you like battles, magic, different cultures and history, then you’d like this series. The characters are complex and well thought out, and I never felt bored when reading this ornate world.

5: The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R Tolkien.

I doubt there could be a fantasy book list without this saga. Written in the 1950s as a sequel to The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings revolutionised the world olotr111f high fantasy and epic fantasy and has been influenced authors for years to come. The books are atypical of Tolkien’s florid and highly descriptive writing style, and follow the story of the destruction of the One Ring by the Hobbit, Frodo Baggins and his comrades.  So I would say, if you’re looking for the ultimate of ultimate fantasy novels to read, why not try this? You can’t be worse off. And then watch the movies.

So here are my top 5 choices. I doubt there are any shockers on here, but if you have any comments or queries, just send me a question.

 

 

Top 5 – Book-to-Film Adaptations.

Now, I’m sure I’m not alone in the fact of when I hear about film adaptation of a book I’ve read; I get extremely excited for it. It helps if I’ve obviously enjoyed the book, and I love theorising over who will be cast as who, and how they’ll direct particular scenes and what wording from the book will make it into the movie. And whether it’s a good adaptation or a bad one, it’s always worthy comparing them and seeing whether the film stands up to the book, or vice versa.

So, with my blogpost series of Top 5’s  becoming an actual thing, I thought I’d do a blogpost about my personal top 5 favourite book-to-film adaptations. And from this you’ll hopefully be able to discover some new films, or even new books.

1: Gone with the Wind.
Film: 1939 – Book: 1939
Director: David O. Selznick – Author: Margaret Mitchell.gone-with-the-wind
Mitchell’s text is an historical, sweeping novel set in and around the Deep South during the American Civil War, and focuses on life of Scarlett O’Hara, ex-Southern Belle and survivor of the war. And with the film having an impressive running time of nearly four hours, it certainly matches up to the gargantuan novel. The film sticks fairly faithfully to the plot, and with Hollywood royalty of Clarke Gable, Vivian Leigh, Olivia de Havilland and Leslie Howard, the film is rich, sumptuous and a true classic.

2: Memoirs of a Geisha.
Film: 2005 – Book: 1997
Director: Rob Marshall – Author: Arthur Golden
Set against the beautiful Japanese backdrop of 1920s Kyoto, Golden’s Memoirs of a Geisha memoirs-of-a-geishaenthralled me as a young teenage, as young Chiyo is sold to a geisha house and through her trials and tribulations, ends up being of the most celebrated geisha of her time. And Marshall’s movie brings this story to life, with a very well-cast crew of actors (Gong Li is a superb Hatsumomo), and a very true-to-novel plot, the film isn’t loud of brash, but approaches Chiyo’s tale in a superb manner.

 

 

3: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
Film: 2009 – Book: 2005
Director: Niels Arden Oplev – Author: Steig Larsson.
the-girl-with-the-dragon-tattooA unsettling and thrilling film which grabs all the tension of Larsson’s first novel, and runs away with it. By paying close attention to the novel, and casting the fierce Noomi Rapace as the mysterious Lisbeth Salander, the Swedish version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is ride from start to finish. Although scenes are taken from later books in Larsson’s series, the film is taut, terrifying and delightful all in one go.
(I haven’t seen the English version starring Daniel Craig, so I can only recommend this version)

4: Rebecca
Film: 1940 – Book: 1939
Director: Alfred Hitchcock – Author: Daphne Du Maurier
Once again, another classic film that has thrilled audiences for decades. Fans of Du Maurier’s original novel have praised this novel for how faithfully it stuck to the story, and with the power crebecca-alfred-hitchcock-21250737-400-303ouple of Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontaine playing the tragic Mr and Mrs de Winter, this black-and-white gothic tale has thrilled and titillated since release. With Hitchcock’s supreme directing style, and use of suspense, it is no wonder that the author herself said that this film, along with Don’t Look Now, are the only adaptations of her work that she had time for. Also, watch out for Judith Anderson’s excellent acting as the deranged housekeeper Mrs Danvers.

5: To Kill a Mockingbird
Film: 1962 – Book: 1960
Director: Robert Mulligan – Author: Harper Lee
I don’t think any film list can be complete without putting this film forwardto_kill_a_mockingbird_still. Lee’s Gothic tale of racism, inequality and moral issues has been read in countless schools, and her protagonist’s father, Atticus Finch, has served as a sort of moral hero for readers. And in Mulligan’s 1962, Gregory Peck plays Finch in a sensitive and just manner, and with an excellent script and casting of Scout and Jem, the film really blows other adaptations out of water due to its direction and faithfulness to the text.

So, these are my top 5 choices. This year there are so many good books being adapted into films (I’m very excited to see Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children), but I’d like to know what you’re excited for. Leave your answers in my comments.
Until next time!

The Swans of Fifth Avenue – Book Review

Title: The Swans of Fifth Avenue

Author: Melanie Benjamin

Rating: 3/5

Genre: Celebrity, Memoir, Historical Fiction, Women’s Literature, Chick-Lit, Contemporary Fiction


“Babe Paley simply never made an empty gesture, and here she was, assembling a parade of them. But her feet, her hands, her mind, her heart, were all restless. Truman.”

Throughout all my years of being an English student, one author has cropped up time and time again during my studies. His words have always struck a deep emotional chord with me and I would eagerly devour his stories whenever I could. To me, Truman Capote was, and still is, such an enigma in his writing, as he not only invented the idea of the ‘nonfiction novel’, but brought to life the cult favourite of Breakfast at Tiffany’s. And it 9780345528698wasn’t just his literary talent that he was praised for, but his flamboyant and very decorated personal life as a social butterfly and celebrity favourite.
So when I was sent The Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin to review, I was thrilled.

The Swans of Fifth Avenue focuses on 1950s/60s New York City and author Truman Capote’s life and his relationship with the higher tiers of society. At the peak of the society, women of immense power, money, familial ties and intrigue stand apart from the rest. These are Truman’s ‘swans’, and they represent a world of riches and beauty that Truman desperately wishes to be part of. And at the head of this group, socialite and style icon, Babe Paley is the undisputed queen. Glamourous, elegant and always dressed exquisitely, Babe Paley oozed glamour and sophistication. But beneath the perfect wife and woman façade, Babe Paley is a highly sensitive and passionate individual who craves love and affection that she is not receiving through her perfectly suited, yet loveless marriage. And when Truman Capote sweeps into her life with a larger-than-life personality, he sets Babe’s dull world into glorious Technicolour. And through winning the affection of Babe, Truman is granted unrivaled access into the snake-pit that is New York high society. But is Truman trustworthy? And what do you do when secrets get revealed, and the picture-perfect charade comes crashing down about you?

Now, this story is indeed very glamourous and scandalous. With a fairly fast pace and well-timed flashbacks and forwards, it keeps the reader interested, and allows you to become immersed into a world that seems entirely foreign from the everyday. From wearing Chanel suits to light lunches at the Plaza and into shopping sprees in Tiffany’s, this world seems so entirely rich and vibrant that is feels almost dreamlike. Now, despite the novel having a darker and more real undertone – with the Truman Capote scandal, the hidden lives of the glamourous women (drink, drugs, sex scandals, domestic abuse etc) – this novel isn’t particularly hard-hitting in those senses. To me, these were issues that really could have been explored and in better detail. In my opinion, this novel just wanted to have a halcyon glaze of glamour and beauty.

The ‘Swans’ were really an interesting group of women. They were all beautiful, charming, malicious, and as two-faced as they could come, and they thrived on attention and the scandal that surrounded their lives. With loveless marriages, money issues, drug and drink addiction and cosmetic surgery pressures, these women were constantly scrutinised by their closest friends as well as society, and I found them all to be highly interesting and unique characters. I particularly found Slim Keith and Gloria Vanderbilt to be interesting figures as they stood apart from the rest of the swans, and gave the taste of individuality and strength.

The relationship between Babe and Truman was always one of interest. To me, Benjamin has really written it as a relationship that seems so co-dependent and unhealthy, it borders on obsession. Both with unresolved mother issues, these two lonely hearts were drawn to each other for different reasons. And whilstbabe-paley-wearing-a-creation-of-traina-norell-photographed-by-horst-p-horst-from-american-vogue-in-1946 Truman ultimately sacrifices his relationship for the sake of a quick buck – his infamous short story ‘La Côte Basque 1965’ fictionalises and reveals all of Babe’s secrets, resulting in his Swans cutting him out of New York society – there is a sense that Truman really did care for Babe. And with the latter chapters showing both Babe and Truman’s downward spiral, due to illness and drink and drug dependencies, it is then when the book really does come into its own. After watching interviews and reading books on Capote, I thought that Benjamin really captured his spirit well.

Throughout the novel, I thought Benjamin captured the intimacy and secrecy of this world well. Sometimes it felt very intrusive whilst reading it, as though you, the reader was being allowed into the gilded cage and offered up the secrets.
All in all, I found this novel enjoyable. Yes, it some parts it was too sweet, and skimmed over the darker parts of the novel. But it was a light, and comfortable read. Perfectly suited for travel or a holiday. But don’t expect to be reading hard-hitting literature here. Full of scandal, intrigue and beautiful clothes, this novel transports you away to the cool interiors of Bergdorf’s, St Regis and Tiffany’s.

To buy this book – Amazon/Waterstones

Author’s website – Click Here

The Silent History by Eli Horowitz, Matthew Derby and Kevin Moffett – Book Review

Title: The Silent History

Authors: Eli Horowitz, Matthew Derby and Kevin Moffett.

Rating: 3.5/5

Genre: Fiction, Sci-Fi, Dystopia, Adult Literature, Contemporary Fiction, Social Media Literature.


“Let the unknown be unknown. The things we need will reveal themselves in time.”

Thanks to the lovely people at Nudge-book.com, I was sent this book as a gift, alongside my main review text (link to that right here). And when I read the blurb and little insider summary of the book’s history, I was instantly intrigued.

The Silent History was originally published and serialised through an award-winning app, and released little by little as field studies and testimonals. It focuses on the tale of a generation of children born without speech, without language and without any obvious means of communication with the outside world. These are called ‘The Silents’. So instantly, the children are labelled under various terms31b3rhddlpl-_sy344_bo1204203200_
– a blessing, an epidemic, a freakshow, a scientific miracle, or just outcasts. The story is told through 120 individual testimonals, ranging from parents of ‘silent’ children, to doctors, friends, leaders and random observers, and it narrates how the children were first diagnosed, and how, through the years of 2011-44, these children grew into a world that saw the ‘silents’ change from being freaks of nature and into something far more powerful.

Now, I had my copy sent to me in a paperback book format. So I cannot review this as how it was originally published, as I didn’t have, or was even aware of the app. So, I apologise in that sense. But, after reading it, I can see how amazing this would have been as a novel-by-the-way-of-an-app. I have gathered through my research that there are even parts of the book that I haven’t been able to access, due to the user interaction that only the app can provide, which adds another level of this story completely.

Whilst I was reading it, I noticed there are definite touches of Sci-Fi, fantasy and even end-of-the-world in this book. With the ‘silents’ being diagnosed, humiliated and labelled an epidemic and then basically marginalised by the rest of society, there is a real sense of isolation and tension throughout the stories. With the use of first-hand and oral recordings of the silents history, it felt very World War Z, and the scenes of the motely groups of silents banding together was highly reminiscent of the zombie genre (think countless scenes in The Walking Dead) so I thought that the whole idea of discrimination was done really well.

With the people of the narrative, I also thought these were written extremely well. The authors could definitely explain human emotions, especially when said humans were at their limits. There are sections, like Theo (the manic, overprotective father) and his silent daughter, Flora, which does show postivity and family bonds, but not traditional sense at all. The most amusing character was either the straightforward Francine or the manic, cultish Patti, as they brought humour and a sense of realness to the crazy world they ipadiphone-33203a116f049163aa165def8aeb2a65lived in.

So yes, I found the premise and the writing was of a very high level. The original writers of the app and stories had clearly thought this out. But for me, the real problem was the translation of app-to-book. Like I said, I can definitely see how this would have worked as an app. It would have been so interesting, as the characters and stories would have been slowly given out, so the story would have been kept fresh and intriguing. But that doesn’t really work on paper. I was interested for 3/4 of the way through, but then it started to lose its focus and the ending wasn’t satisfying enough. Some characters just seemed to disappear without any proper farewells, and I did have to push myself to actually finish. Maybe due to how it was written or delivered, there were some parts were the narration felt slow and the big climax was disappointing to say the least.

But honestly, I think that is due to how it was changed from app to book. It does go to show that how stories are told originally really makes all the difference!

So unfortunately, I cannot give this a 4/5. The premise was fantastic, as was the writing. But it just didn’t work as a book. Not to this reviewer anyway.

But let me know! Have you ever read or used The Silent History app/book? How does it compare?

Once again, huge thank you to Nudge for sending me this.

Links:

To buy the book – Waterstones/Amazon

Website – Click Here

 

The Rivals of Dracula by Nick Rennison – Book Review

Title: The Rivals of Dracula

Author: Nick Rennison

Rating: 4/5

Genre: Gothic Fiction, Horror, Fantasy, Vampire Fiction, Short Stories.


If there is one thing readers and viewers of this blog should know is that I’m obsessed with the Gothic. After studying it as a module in my degree, and even writing my dissertation on Dracula, I have developed a deep appreciation for this particular genre of literature, architecture and story-telling. So when I was sent The Rivals of Dracula by Nick Rennison to review from Nudge-book.com, I was so pleased as not only does it combine Dracula and the Gothic, but also my love for short stories.

Published two months ago, The Rivals of Dracula is a collection of short stories which have been put together and organised by Nick Rennison – author, editor and bookseller – and it focuses on, as the sub-title states, ‘The Golden Age of Gothic Horror’. Stoker’s Dracula was first published in 1897, and despite being one of the most prolific and famous Gothic stories to come out from the fin-de-siècle of the century, it was not the only vampire story to emerge from this period. And within this collection, Rennison introduces the reader to fifteen different authors, fifteen different short stories, and fifteen different vampiric characters. With a mixture of well-known writers and lesser familiar authors, the collection is a succinct, well-documented and diverse collection of vampiric tales from around the globe. 9781843446323

Rennison clearly took his time in the organisation of what authors and stories to pick for the collection, as despite them all featuring a ‘vampiric figure’, some are more obvious than the others whilst others take more a supernatural/ghostly appearance. The stories are easily readable, and highly Gothic, in the sense that they actually gave me chills when reading them. I’d thoroughly recommend F Marion Crawfords ‘For the Blood of Life’ and EF Benson’s ‘The Room in the Tower’, as these were so tense. Rennison also includes a little author biography before every story, which gives information about the writer, as well as other texts they may have written. There is also an introduction written by Rennison about Stoker’s novel and the world of the Gothic.

I was so pleased that I got to review this book, as it’s definitely up my street. This is a good collection of classic tales of the supernatural, and I was very impressed with Rennison’s introduction and choice of short stories. A must-have for Gothic fans!

Big thank you to Nudge for making me one of their reviewers, and sending me these perfect books!

Links:

To buy the book – Waterstones/Amazon

 

Down the Rabbit Hole by Holly Madison – Book Review

Title: Down the Rabbit Hole: Curious Adventures and Cautionary Tales of a Former Playboy Bunny

Author: Holly Madison

Rating: 3/5

Genres: Celebrity, Autobiography, Memoir, Television and Film


“While there was a part of me that acknowledged the idiocy and superficiality that surrounded me, I fell for the glamour: hook, line, and sinker. It took years for me to realize just how manipulated and used I had been. I could never admit that to myself at the time, because to do so would have been to acknowledge how dark and scary a situation I was in . . . and how very little in control I was.”

Like everyone, I have my guilty pleasures. And one of them is watching American reality TV. And whether it be Bad Girls Club or Big Rich Texas, I use reality TV as a backdrop of my day-to-day activities. If I’m putting on makeup, or getting ready to go out, or even tidying my room, I’ll pop on a couple of episodes as something to entertain me as I do the mundane jobs. And whilst I was coming down after the sheer panic that was dissertation hand-in, I discovered a incredibly entertaining and silly television programme from the early Noughties.

The Girls Next Door was a long-running E! series focusing on the girls of the Playboy Mansion, particularly on the exploits of Hugh Hefner’s three girlfriends, Kendra, Holly and Bridget. The programme was highly comical, seemingly fake and featured a lot of blonde bombshells, which ar-ak196_bunny_jv_20150702141939made for entertaining viewing and addictive viewing, and the three girlfriends each had their own personalities and quirks. From this I quickly became immersed in their day-to-day activities as they did photoshoots, appearances and promoted Playboy. And like with all reality programmes, I found myself liking one of the girls more than the others.
Holly Madison was considered Hefner’s Number One Girlfriend at the time, and I found her kindness, down-to-earth beauty and overall ‘normal-ness’ a soothing balm to the sometimes bizarre world of the mansion. So, when I heard that she was going to release a book which was going to be a tell-all version of what it was like to be a girlfriend, I immediately pre-ordered it.

Down the Rabbit Hole is firstly a memoir of Madison’s life, as she starts off as a small time girl from Alaska and ends up being a successful businesswoman, model, celebrity, mother and wife, and it’s secondly a never-before-told story of her experiences with living in the mansion, the relationships with the magazine mogul’s various girlfriends, the reality show, and dealing with Mr. Playboy himself, the octogenarian Hugh Hefner. Written in a candid and fairly honest manner, Madison reveals that the supposed ‘fairy-story’ that the reality show portrayed was far more twisted and dark, and that depression, boredom, drug-taking, bitchiness and isolation were the rife within the mansion. Her stories about living with being one of Hefner’s girlfriends, abiding by a strict curfew, doing pictorials, and just being in the public eye were interesting, as it shows another world that only a few have experienced, and I found this an interesting and refreshingly frothy read. madison23n-2-web

Now, despite liking Holly in the television programme, I did get a sense that she acted as though she was the victim within this book. There was an outstanding amount of ‘woe-is-me’. And yes, Madison admits that she did scheme, lie and manipulate some of the girls to get them out of the mansion and out of Hefner’s mind, but repeatedly, she gives us tales of her being bullied by stronger characters, and acts like she came out of it highly traumatised. It was only in the last 1/3 of the book that Holly became stronger and more settled in herself, and didn’t act too much like the victim. There are really important messages in this book, such as abusive relationships, depression and suicidal thoughts and just being happy without a spouse or significant other, but these are unfortunately overshadowed by her ‘holier-than-thou’ attitude. But whether there is truth to the story or not is up to the reader.

But all in all, I enjoyed this book. In some places it can be fairly hard-hitting and just scandalous to read, but so is the world of the celebrity and Playboy. This book isn’t the best written, but nor does it act like it’s going to be. It’s simply the journey of a naive, celebrity Alice as she fell down the Bunny Hole, and how she emerged from the other side.

Links:

To buy the book – Waterstones/Amazon

Author’s twitter – Click Here

 

The Strange Affair of Spring-Heeled Jack by Mark Hodder – Book Review

Title: The Strange Affair of Spring-Heeled Jack

Author: Mark Hodder

Rating: 4/5

Genre: Fantasy, Steampunk, Young Adult Fiction, Alternative History, Sci-Fi, Mystery


“Every time we are faced with a choice, and we are faced with them every minute of every day, we make a decision to follow its course into the future. But what of the abandoned options? Are they like unopened doors? Do alternative futures lie beyond them? How far would we wander from the course we have steered were we to go back and, just once, open Door A instead of Door B?”

As I’ve stated before in various blog posts, I’ve been experimenting with reading more fantasy and sci-fi literature. Yet, one crossbreed that I haven’t really touched on is the ‘Steampunk’ genre. So, when I had a six-hour train journey to cope with, I borrowed Mark Hodder’s The Strange Affair of Spring-Heeled Jack from a friend, and inadvertantly found myself falling into an alternative historical novel that not only ticked the ‘steampunk’ genre, but also had elements of mystery, fantasy and questions of morality.

Set in an al7293120ternative Victorian (or rather, Albertian)  London, and with the use of actual historical characters and events, Hodder’s book brings together a narrative that involves all the power of the Victorian engineering, industrial and manufacturing prowess, along with a labyrinthine collection of murder, mystery, genetic engineering, folklore, sexual deviance, chimney-sweeps, abductions and an underlying current that can only be called ‘pure steampunk’. And who, I hear you ask, is our guide through this intricate world? Who will be the Virgil’s to our Dante’s? The famous explorer, scholar and swordsman, Sir Richard Burton.
After a serious public and personal humiliation, Burton is unsure of what his future holds. His former friend and contemporary, John Speke, has gone missing and presumed dead and his career has suffered a colossal blow. So when he is recruited by King Albert to be the ‘King’s Spy’, he throws himself into the investigation wholeheartedly. And his first mission? To investigate a series of sexual assaults, who have been committed by a  presumed folklore creation, known as Spring-Heeled Jack, and to discover why half-human, half-dog creatures are kidnapping chimney sweeps. But as he gets deeper and more involved in the crimes, Burton finds himself in the underbelly of the London’s most depraved circles, where science, morals and ethics run wild and without consequence.

Now, as a a debut novel, I was very surprised over the quality of the writing, the complexity of the plot, and the well-crafted characters. Debut novels can sometimes be hit-or-miss, and it can be due to the author’s writing style, delivery of story or way they’ve been crafted. But when I read this, I was impressed.

One thing that I really enjoyed with the novel was the universe it was in. I love alternative history, and was very excited to read a novel that was Albertian, rather than Victorian.  I cannot fault the world-building, as Hodder has really taken on the steampunk idea, ran with it and made it both incredible, yet highly believable. He provided a credible and quite scientific reason for all the steampunk-ness of the novel, and wrote the eugenics side of it in a highly fascinating and technical manner. Hodder explored quite deep topics, such as ‘humanity versus technology’, ‘freedom from slavery’, and ‘what distinguishes us from animals’ in a careful and well-written way, and he also excelled in having various different storylines which didn’t really muddle up or get too convoluted.

In the novel, the characters were also fairly well imagined. As well as the reimagined historical characters, we have different social groups who have their own quirks, and different ages and sexes have been portrayed. However, what did confuse me a bit is that this book is supposed to be focusing of Burton, and the poet Algernon Swinburne, but these are probably some of the least explored characters in the entire book. But, as this is a series, I can see room for more development and backstory. And
Swinburne is quite hilarious in the sections that he is in, so I am hoping for more of him. There was also a need for more female characters. Apart from the odd mention of a woman, the only interesting woman were Isabel Arundell and Sister Raghavendra, yet compared to the men, they barely feature in the novel.
The reason I wouldn’t give this a 5/5 rating is because the last section of the book does get slightly muddled up.It seems almost rushed, and feels slightly unfinished. Now, despite this being a series, I don’t believe the next book is a continuation. So to leave it feeling as unfinished as it does isn’t that great. Also, sometimes the amount of steampunk description did feel too heavy, and too complicated. The same goes for the storylines. However, all in all, I found this book highly enjoyable! A fairly fast-paced fantasy, steampunk adventure and one that I will be eager to continue with! But please, if you’ve read any other steampunk novels, let me know in the comments below.

Links!

To buy the book – Waterstones /Amazon

Link to the author’s website – Click Here

Link to the author’s twitter – Click Here

 

The Amazing Book is Not on Fire by Dan and Phil – Book Review

Title: The Amazing Book is Not on Fire

Author: Dan Howell and Phil Lester

Rating: 4/5

Genre: Non-Fiction, Biography, YouTuber World, Online Presence, Social Media, Celebrity Culture, Arts and Entertainment, Popular Culture


‘This book is us taking our favourite parts from that swirling universe on the internet and trapping it in something physical. Something we can hold and touch and keep in our houses, so that long into the future we can all look back and remember who these Dan and Phil guys were and what they did.’

In the past couple of years, the culture of YouTube has properly exploded into the public consciousness, and made the successful and popular YouTubers into sort of mini-celebrities. And from this, these YouTubers have been able to release all different types of merchandise – such as clothing lines, makeup collections and even short films. But there is one thing that the majority of these vloggers have done, and that is to release books.
So, whether they be self-help, fictional, lifestyle or even graphic novels, these books constantly hit the top of the bestseller charts, and make the YouTubers grow in popularity. And that is no different when I bought and read ‘The Amazing Book is Not on Fire’ by Dan (danisnotonfire) Howell and Phil (AmazingPhil) Lester.
Now, with a joint audience of over 10 million subscribers, as well as a highly succesful Radio 1 show, flatmates and best friends Dan and Phil both have their own, independent channels, but frequently collaborate together. So it made sense that when the chance to release a book came around, they decided to chronicle their world together. And with over 220 coloured, and highly detailed pages, The Amazing Book is Not on Fire or TABINOF is a good companion to fans of either YouTuber.

The book follows Dan and Phil through their entire lives, starting from birth through to finishing in the last year or so. With interviews, behind-the-scene photos, rambling stories, diary extracts, stories from their YouTube endeavours, drawings of their old apartments, quizzes, anecdotes, pictures, doodles, fanfiction entries, and even a second dedicated to their Sims character, this book really is a smorgasbord of goodies that will make any fan of the two vloggers devour eagerly. This book also has really interesting sections about how to become a YouTuber, and delivers handy hints for any aspiring creators, as well as being visually well-thought out, and designed in a way that will appeal to all ages. As Dan and Phil have fans that range from young teens to older people, this book isn’t offensive, nor does it act like it is serious. It is simply, as the front page states it to be, ‘The World of Dan and Phil’. One of my favourite sections were the University experiences, as it is well-documented that Dan dropped out, but it was interesting to read about Phil’s experiences and how he went on to get a Masters. I also enjoyed the Japanese section of the book. and the apartment tours.

What I liked about this book is that it really can be read at different times, and you can start at different points. With no strict order, this book isn’t confusing or challenging, and I appreciate that as a older viewer of both Dan and Phil, I can see how younger fans may enjoy and take from it. It also isn’t repetitive, and there is a plenty of variety, and you can tell a lot of thought has gone into it. This really is a perfect companion to Dan and Phil’s video, as it has a equal balance between both vloggers and both channel contents, as well as having their joint work chronicled. With little side stories, such as ‘What Happened in Vegas’ and ‘The Time We Met One Direction’, this books fills in some of the blanks that have been left on Dan and Phil’s channels, and really makes you get into their world without seeming too boring, or too same-y.

I must say that this book is strictly for die-hard and pretty intense fans of Dan and Phil. I have watched both of them for years, and received the book as a gift, and to me, this book was something that I found interesting, but may have not bought it for myself. Despite liking both their channels, I didn’t really need to go into their world in such a way. So, be warned. You will have to know a lot about Dan and Phil to really appreciate this book in its entirety. I also think this book was directed towards a younger audience, as the whole feel of the book gave off that impression. It wasn’t hard-hitting, it wasn’t intense, and it wasn’t shocking. It was just sweet, fairly cool and very much ‘Dan-and-Phil’. But as a gift for a younger fan, I would think it would be the ideal present.

So, yes. I found The Amazing Book is Not on Fire to be exactly what it was promised to be. A good companion to the highly successful duo that is Dan and Phil, a guide to their world, and just a good, easy book to read or gift to somebody.

But please, let me know if you’ve read the book, and whether you like it!

Links:

To buy the book – Amazon/Waterstones

To subscribe to Dan – Click Here

To subscribe to Phil – Click Here

The Dan and Phil Shop – Click Here