Archive for February, 2017

Articles

There will be no June 27th this year. . .

In Book Reviews,CannonballreadIX 2017,Fiction on February 25, 2017 by mrsdilemma

Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery is a short story that stretches just a dozen pages, but those twelve pages have helped to define what horror writing should be ever since. First published in the New Yorker in 1948 to unprecedented public reaction, the Lottery has become a classic.

A seemingly innocent town square gathering, a tradition that happens each and every year in each and every town across the country. Herd mentality, mob rule, crowd psychology – call it what you will, but blindly following a tradition with no pause for thought, with no pause for the consequences is what it is.  What happens if we don’t conduct the lottery? – the thought never enters their minds.

Jackson’s writing is bone chilling, it has an underlying tension that slowly but surely creeps up on you without any clear indication of why. She is an exceptionally talented writer and produced a clear, crisp American classic.

This is a must read, in a collection of short stories or by itself, for everyone that regards themselves a well read – irrelevant of whether you like short stories or you don’t do horror – the Lottery is one you should make an exception for.

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Articles

What if I’d said NO? #domesticviolenceisnotok

In Book Reviews,CannonballreadIX 2017,Fiction on February 18, 2017 by mrsdilemma

Into The Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes

  Into the darkest corner is a stunning debut novel that deserves our time and attention – I wish I could summon the emotion this book created with every thriller I read.

Upon meeting someone new, Cathy is encouraged to confront the trauma she has suffered, she finds unexpected happiness, with which comes the possibility of normal life. But, is she really ready? is she really safe? and will she ever escape her past?

First time author Elizabeth Haynes has chosen to tell Cathy’s story using alternating narratives, this forces us to see the differences between our characters past and future. Firstly, Catherine in 2003, living a carefree partying life and then Cathy in 2007 crippled by fear which is compounded by OCD.

This device is unusual and I must admit it took me a few chapters to even realize that I was reading about the same woman! After that light bulb moment I found it engaging; I had a pretty good idea where the 2003’s story line was going and found that writing, whilst satisfying, was no where near as compelling as the 2007 chapters, they were, to coin a phrase, unputdownable.

Haynes’ portrayal of obsession is utterly convincing, I completely detested Lee from page one, and there were times the book was thrown in frustration. . . .  Into the darkest corner is a harrowing psychological thriller, an emotional read that will stay with you long after you put it down. So; go and pick it up.

Articles

young women with no voice, can you hear them yelling?

In Book Reviews,CannonballreadIX 2017,Feminism,YA literature on February 11, 2017 by mrsdilemma

Until Friday Night / Speak by Abbi Glines / Laurie Halse Anderson

I seem to have chosen a number of titles that relate to young women with no voice, not physically, but after suffering some form of unimaginable trauma they choose not to speak. . . . Am I trying to tell myself something?

Speak – a YA classic from 1999 details the first year at high school for Melinda. Our heroine is isolated from her peers, she doesn’t engage or communicate with her family or school community, but can’t hide her pain at being excluded. Her exclusion and her choice to cease speaking is something she also finds comfort in, it is her self inflicted coping mechanism.

Until Friday Night – the first in a connected series from Abbi Glines. Maggie has suffered terrible trauma and doesn’t speak. West, the school jock, is suffering but hasn’t told anyone. When their worlds collide and they fall ( predictably ) in love, They find each others voice and discover their own inner strength.

The difference in the quality of writing between the two is marked, Speak is a beautifully written piece, whilst written for a young adult audience any lover of quality fiction could read and enjoy it. Until Friday Night is stylistically a little simple and left me wanting more depth of story and character development. Having said that both titles would work well for teens who need to grow their self confidence and coping skills, the slow healing process in both novels is honest and compelling, readers will want to cheer out loud for both heroines.

Articles

What if the worst thing you did went viral?

In Book Reviews,CannonballreadIX 2017,Fiction on February 4, 2017 by mrsdilemma

What if the worst thing you did went viral?

Viral by Helen Fitzgerald

Viral centers around two sisters; Leah & Su, and their mother, Ruth.  Party girl Leah is only allowed to go on holiday to Magaluf if she takes sensible hard working Su with her. Leah tries to rekindle a lost relationship with Su the only way she knows how by trying to turn Su into a party girl, then things go horribly wrong and a video of Su goes viral. Su feeling humiliated and alone flees in search of the answer to her problems.

Viral is in essence about consequences in the age of social media, its about family and what we would do to protect our families, it is a very topical from a social commentary point of view.

Ruth, the girls mother is the most fascinating character in the narrative – her search for truth and consequently her quest for vengeance know no bounds. She runs the gauntlet of insanity and is a terrifyingly real proposition. The writing alternates between Ruth and Su which provides an interesting narrative juxtaposition.

Fitzgerald is an experienced writer and it shows, her writing style is snappy and clever, She reveals only the bare essentials but well and truly enough to advance the narrative at a pace that keeps the reader totally hooked.

Viral’s only downfall exists in a portion of the storyline that feels tacked on, unnecessary at best. ( Spoiler alert ) During Su’s journey for answers, she seeks out her birth mother whose identity is at the limits of plausibility. If this part of the narrative had been cut it might have relieved some of the pressure the plot is under during its closing stages, the narrative feels slightly rushed and somewhat hastily pulled together.

I must admit I hesitated over buying this book for months but I wish I hadn’t – its superb, I’ll recommend it lovers of fast paced, insightful, escapist fiction. I look forward to the television series which has been bought by the makers of Broadchurch and The Tunnel.