Saturday, 20 August 2016

Recommended Summer Reads 2016

I am just coming to the end of my series of recommended summer reads for 2016. 

Here is the list so far. 

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld - Contemporary

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo - Fantasy (YA)

Freedom/Hate by Kyle Andrews - Dystopia (YA)

This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki - Graphic novel (YA)

The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher by Hilary Mantel - Literary

Half Lost by Sally Green - Dystopian Fantasy (YA)

Just One Day by Gayle Forman - Contemporary

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Dedication to Dystopia

Science fiction is probably my favourite genre of fiction.  When I first discovered Dystopia I was less keen (for reasons outlined, below), but my attitude has changed considerably over the years - which is just as well since Dystopian fiction is so prominant that it is difficult for a sci-fi fan to avoid, particularly in Young Adult fiction,

That said, I have my own idea of what Dystopia is.  For me, in the same way that horror is supposed to evoke a sense of fear, Dystopia is supposed to evoke a sense of dread and anxiety.  If a horror isn't scary, it isn't doing it's job.  To me the same applies to Dystopia. Sometimes it is difficult to indentify what is causing that uncomfortable feeling; its about sensing that something terrible is just around the corner, but not knowing what.  Sometimes it takes the form of dramatic irony - when the reader knows what terrible things are going to happen to characters, but the characters themselves have no idea.  There are many great examples but two that come to mind are George Orwell's 'Animal Farm' and Kazuo Ishiguro's 'Never Let me Go'. 

My problem with some modern Dystopian fiction is the absence of that sense of dread.  For the month of February, my book review blog Sooz Book Reviews will be dedicated to Dystopia and will look at which of the chosen books do, and which ones do not, do the job of making us feel uncomfortable.

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

BBC National Short Story Award 2015 - Winner

The BBC NSSA was just announced 

and the winner is....

Briar Road 
by Jonathan Buckley

the runner up went to....

by Mark Haddon

Sunday, 4 October 2015

BBC National Short Story Award 2015

It's the 10th anniversary of the awards.  I took the time to listen to the short listed ones on BBC R4 today.

They are:

Briar Road
by Jonathan Buckley

A woman with psychic abilities visits a family home to assist a couple discover whether their missing daughter is alive and well. 

by Mark Haddon 

A young man is trapped in his home because of his obesity.  One day a young woman from the neighbourhood turns up asking to borrow a hedge trimmer. Could she be his guardian angel?

Broderie Anglaise 
by Frances Leviston

A girl decides to make herself a dress to attend a family wedding and ends up locking horns with her mother over it's creation.

The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher 
by Hilary Mantel 

 A young woman whose flat is directly opposite the hospital where the prime minister is an in-patient receives a visitor under the pretext that he is an emergency plumber.

Do It Now, Jump The Table 
by Jeremy Page 

A young man is nervous as he is about to meet his girlfriend's parents for the first time, and their unconventional way of life doesn't exactly help the situation.

I enjoyed them all but 'Briar Road' gets my vote - because I found it intriguing and wanted more.

My runners up would be 'The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher' - just because it's an excellent piece of fiction* in my view, and 'Do It Now, Jump The Table' - because the cringe factor made me laugh.

The actual winner will be announced this Tuesday (6th October).

Click here to get the link.

*Yes fiction. And yet the Tory press declined to publish it.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Best Book Reviews

Sooz Book Reviews 
Top 10 most popular reviews

Most popular review 
Undreamed by Scott Western-Pittard

 2nd  Nandana's Mark by Heidi Garrett

3rd Fading Amber by Jaime Reed


4th Dark Water by Tricia Rayburn

5th The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

6th Afterparty by Ann Redisch-Stampler

7th Burning Emerald by Jaime Reed

8th The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling

9th Goodnight, Beautiful by Dorothy Koomson

10th Cloak & Dagger by Nenia Campbell

Thursday, 2 October 2014

BBC National Short Story Award 2014

I've been following the BBC National Short Story Award 2014 with keen interest.

I listened to the 5 shortlisted stories on BBC R4

  1. The Amerian Lover by Rose Tremain is about a woman struggling to come to terms with a disasterous love affair with an older man.
  2. The Taxidermist's Daughter by Francesca Rhydderch set just after World War 1 is about a young girl who experiences her first crush and sexual awareness for the first time.
  3. Miss Adele among the Corsets by Zadie Smith set in modern day New York and is about an aging African American drag queen who feels the weight of discrimination while buying a corset and takes her frustration out on the shop owner and his wife.
  4. Kalifi Creek by Lionel Shriver is about a woman who cheated death when she was a young girl on her gap year and how this experience influences her throughout her life.
  5. Bad Dreams by Tessa Hadley is about a young girl who is woken up by a disturbing dream that she finds difficult to shake.  Her actions cause a cascade of events affecting her parents.

They were all amazing but there was one clear winner and 2 (equally as good) runners up for me.

My favourite was Miss Adele among the Corsets.

My runners up were Bad Dreams and The Taxidermist's Daughter.

The actual winner was announced yesterday (1st October).  The runner up was Zadie Smith and the prize went to Lionel Shriver - 3rd time nominee and 1st time winner of the prize. I better listen to Kalifi Creek again....

Friday, 5 September 2014

Books About Town

Clarissa Dalloway dipicted on the front

The National Literary Trust hosted Books about Town in London this summer (2 July to 15 September).  Fifty unique BookBench sculptures, designed by local artists and famous names to celebrate London’s literary heritage and reading for enjoyment.

It's been fun running into some of them.  I managed to snap af few of the ones on the Bloomsbury Trail using my phone camera, including Virgina Woolf's Mrs Dallaway.

It inspired me to read the book and the review features on my blog Sooz Book Reviews this week.

Septimus Warren Smith dipicted on the back
Click here for more info on Books About Town