Friday 27 September 2019

Book Review Awakening

Book review

Awakening by David Munro

This book is the third in a series of time-traveling novels. The concept of a magical mirror that can transport a person to another time zone is almost familiar and definitely not unique. It provides a reliable physical point of contact between the different time eras.

Much of the story is related through conversation. Descriptive passages are short and the social context of the era in question is identified by discussion between characters about music, news, and football, for example. At times, this device appears stilted and the conversation does not flow authentically.

The plot meanders somewhat and the characterization is superficial.  The synopsis suggests an interesting storyline, but the novel fails to deliver its potential to the reader. There are shifts in tense and repetitive passages. Many of the characters appear to have a cough and when in an emotional situation develop raspy voices. There is much pondering throughout the book and clumsy sentence construction.

Sadly, I found many instances of grammatical and contextual errors that should have been picked up in the editing process.

For example;

‘She took position in front of a board, which encompassed her body.’

‘This vibrant individual has a stylish red top and tight black trousers, therefore, pleasing on the eye.’

‘I spotted and empty chair, where a woman wearing a nurse’s uniform underneath a jacket sat.’

‘A door banged to and fro, therefore, I hadn’t secured it’.

‘Her blond hair in a ponytail added to a pleasant appearance.’

‘Where to begin the story still ponders, however, I’ve gone for an ideal location’.

David Munro spoke eloquently about his book in a talk I attended. I looked forward to reading it and have been greatly disappointed. During his talk, he mentioned that he watched films and seldom read books. It is clear from his writing that he is greatly influenced by screen drama and unfortunately his lack of literary awareness impacts negatively on his novel.

I am sorry to say that I cannot recommend this. 

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Book Review The Last 10 Seconds

The Last 10 Seconds. Simon Kernick

This is a fast paced read. Description is kept to a minimum and action prioritised. At first I found the alternating viewpoints of the two main characters a bit stilted, but reading on, it worked better as the story unfolded.

Sean Egan is an undercover cop who launches into situations with a complete lack of consideration for his own safety . He fails to keep his boss up to speed and suffers numerous assaults from which he remarkably recovers.

Tina Boyd is a Detective Inspector with a reputation for doggedly pursuing crime and getting results. She has survived a number of shooting incidents and struggles with a dependency on alcohol.

As the plot develops with numerous twists and turns, the two main characters cross paths, and many hardened criminals bite the dust. A rapist and murderer is brought to justice and a high profile corrupt  politician comes to a sticky end.

This is a great read for a tedious journey but unlikely to make the pile of books to be read a second time.


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Tuesday 17 September 2019

Dreams for inspiration?

                                                                      photo by Marcelo Moreira

It is often said that the stuff of dreams fuels the imagination. For some, the fantastical quality of dreams can be a powerful stimulus to writing. Those early morning thoughts are often little pearls to treasure, and a notebook by the bed is a must to scribble them down before they are lost in the rush of normal daytime activity. 

What about my dreams? It would be quite a challenge to convert my sleeping experiences into good narrative. For example, one morning I woke feeling exhausted having spent what seemed like the whole night searching in a huge building complex for a working shower, getting more and more angry as every one I found was non functioning. No, we didn't have a plumbing problem at home, and I had definitely showered that morning, so it remains a mystery why my consciousness insisted on this long, fruitless search.

This morning I woke with the image of a young hare in a field, sitting surrounded by buttercups. A red squirrel in a tree close by was chattering a  warning to the little hare as a giant red cabbage came careering down the hill towards the buttercup patch.  Powerful imagery for a children's story perhaps?

The notebook is on the bedside table, with a pen, waiting for those inspirational ideas. Perhaps the story of the hare will continue tonight and I will find out where the giant cabbage came from.

#dreams  #creativewriting  #amwriting

Monday 9 September 2019

Book Review. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

Book Review. Eleanor  Oliphant is Completely Fine


In my opinion, this is a modern day fairy story focussing on loneliness in a young city dweller. Eleanor, the main character, is an intriguing and engaging young woman who has, against the odds, found a place in society, albeit with limited horizons. She is undoubtedly on the autistic spectrum with obsessive-compulsive features and suffers from social isolation as a result. She is seriously damaged by a disastrous childhood and lacks an ability to fully understand affection. Her conversation is overly formal, with disarming directness.

The story unfolds by introducing minor changes to her well-ordered lifestyle which begin to tip the balance. A crush on a local musician ends traumatically when  Eleanor realises that it was all pure fantasy on her part and plummets her into an acute state of despair. To her astonishment, her work colleague, Raymond, cares enough about her to save her from her suicidal situation. Referral to a counsellor allows her to unravel the facts about her damaged childhood. The story ends hopefully with Eleanor finally accepting emotions and embracing friendship for the first time. We wonder whether she has had the courage to try ' the seductive power of sausage rolls' in her blossoming relationship with Raymond.

It is somewhat unbelievable that Eleanor's autistic characteristics, addressed through counselling, have resolved so significantly in such a short time. Barring this and some other unrealistic expectations, the story is a delight and poses some interesting questions about how people who blatantly don't fit in can be helped to lead happy and successful lives in the organised society of today.

This is a heart-warming story that dilutes the more serious aspects of the story with elements of humour. I would thoroughly recommend it.