A Good Day for Post

It isn’t the first time I have shared my love of post on my blog…last August I wrote about how much I loved receiving exciting parcels and letters in the post and on Friday I was unexpectedly inundated with it!

The first letter that I opened, while probably the least exciting for you to read about, was the most exciting one for me!

WP_000070 (1)

I have been offered a place on the MA course that I applied for! I am so excited! I was starting to worry because I hadn’t heard anything for a while but since this has come through the door I have felt much better! All I have to do now is to get a good reference and a 2.1…no pressure then!

The next thing that dropped through my door will probably seem much more exciting: Continue reading


‘Enduring Love’ by Ian McEwan – A Love Story Like No Other

Author: Ian McEwan

Genre: Fiction

First Published: 1997

Pages: 231


After witnessing a freak hot air balloon accident, Joe Rose never imagined his life would become haunted by another witness who becomes obsessed with him. 

Joe Rose was enjoying a picnic with his long-term girlfriend Clarissa when the disaster happened. Racing to help a man wrestling with a hot air balloon with his terrified grandson inside, Joe cannot guess of the fatal catastrophe soon to follow. But the death of an innocent man is only the beginning. When Joe watched the death of John Logan, he never imagined that the man standing next to him, Jed Parry, was about to ruin his orderly life forever.

The evening after the accident Parry phones Joe and proclaims his love for him. Thinking nothing of it, Joe hangs up and pushes the call to the back of his mind. Parry, however, becomes more and more determined and begins constantly phoning, writing to and stalking Joe. Joe finds himself becoming more and more unnerved by Parry’s bizarre and obsessive behaviour, but with the police and even his girlfriend unable to believe him, even the reader begins to doubt the truth in Joe’s tale. Just as you begin to doubt Joe’s sanity, a close call between life and death hints that Parry’s love may just turn deadly. Fearing for his life, Joe invests in some protection of an illegal nature, but shortly after, he discovers that his life is not the one that hangs in the balance.

McEwan has a fantastic ability to build pace, which he flaunts in the very first chapter in the novel. He controls time effortlessly, making it speed up or slow down seamlessly, which hints at what might be coming. Deviations between random thoughts, observations and drifts of everyday conversation ensure you that something dangerous is lurking just out of sight, and really draws you in to the story. As you start to doubt Joe’s sanity you become convinced that you have already figured out McEwan’s ending, which then twists suddenly and unexpectedly, making the story even more gripping. McEwan’s way with words really compels you to read on due to the sheer beauty of the phrases and observations. A love story that almost brushes with tragedy, this novel is unlike any other. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone out there who wants to try something new.

Favourite quote: ‘This was the moment, this was the pinprick on the time map: I was stretching out my hand, and as the cool neck and the black foil touched my palm, we heard a man’s shout.’

Rating: 8/10

Reading List: Next 10 Books to Read

Here are the next ten books that I am planning to read (the order is subject to change.) I have written a brief summary under each of the titles, however, this was just the information I pulled from the blurb. Full length reviews will follow when I have read them

1.‘Enduring Love’ by Ian McEwan (1997)

After a bizarre and fatal hot air balloon accident, Joe Rose never expected his mundane life to take such an unexpected twist.

2. ‘Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman’ by Haruki Murakami (2006 – in English translation)

A collection of short stories about everything from animated cows and a criminal monkey to a romantic exile in Greece and a chance reunion in Italy.

3. ‘The Omen’ by David Seltzer (1976)

A man exchanges his stillborn son for a new-born orphan. But as the years go on, Robert Thorn begins to unravel the horrible truth about the child that he has raised.

4. ‘Déjà Dead’ by Kathy Reichs (1997)

See Dr Temperance Brennan, Direct of Forensic Anthropology solve her first murder. The series that inspired the television series ‘Bones’. 

5. ‘Carrie’ by Stephen King (1974)

A young girl in New England is not quite what she seems. A demonic force lies behind an innocent face.

6. ‘Room’ by Emma Donoghue (2010)

‘Jack is five. He lives in a single, locked room with his Ma.’ Witness the world through Jack’s eyes, a child who was born as a result of abduction and rape. His whole world exists in the only room he has ever known.

7. ‘The Great Gatsby’ by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1925)

Visit the world of Nick Carraway and the mansions that lined Long Island, America in the 1920s and the mystery that surrounds him.

8. ‘The Shadow of the Wind’ by Carlos Ruiz Zafón (2001)

Ten-year-old Daniel chooses a book from the ‘Cemetery of Forgotten Books’ in 1945, but as he grows up, people begin looking for him. It becomes a race to discover the truth.

9. ‘The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Holmes’ by Loren D Estleman (2010)

Conan Doyle’s infamous detective solves Robert Louis Stevenson’s fictional tale of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. 

10. Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin (2005)

A sixteen year old girl dies when she is hit by a car. She finds herself is ‘Elsewhere’, where ‘life’ continues as usual, but the inhabitants get younger.

If you enjoyed this please read my article on the London Olympics: http://bit.ly/IaTK1X

‘The Small Hand’ by Susan Hill

Yesterday, I read the one of the newest books from Susan Hill, the author of ‘The Woman in Black.’ ‘The Small Hand’ was released in 2010 and, because of the gripping story line (and a two and a half hour wait at the walk-in centre) I read it in one day. The story is about an antique book dealer who, after stumbling across an abandoned house, feels a ghostly hand placed in his. This hand, however, is not as friendly as he first thinks.

The book is a fantastic read; from the minute I picked it up I couldn’t put it down! You, along with the protagonist, are constantly trying to piece together the mystery surrounding the small hand and what it is trying to achieve, and why. Numerous questions are raised that cannot be answered until the final chapter, which at once leaves the reader feeling surprised but horrified at the deadly outcome.

After reading ‘The Woman in Black,’ I feel that ‘The Small Hand’ is a much more gripping tale, which works as a more fluent story due to the simplicity of the tale. As you are approaching the last few chapters the pieces begin to drop into place and the ending offers more closure than ‘The Woman in Black.’ When comparing the two books I feel strangely drawn to ‘The Small Hand’ over the other, as I feel it offers the complete ‘ghost story’ experience when everything is revealed and resolved at the end, which I felt that ‘The Woman in Black’ lacked.

I have thoroughly enjoyed reading both of these books by Susan Hill and I would strongly recommend them to anyone who enjoys ghost or horror stories. I look forward to reading more of her books in the future!

If you enjoyed this please read my article on the London Olympics: http://bit.ly/IaTK1X

The Woman in Black – film/book review

Last night, after spending three years on my bookcase, I finally got round to finishing Susan Hill’s ‘The Woman in Black.’ After seeing the film adaptation starring Daniel Radcliffe, I was eager to finish the book I had started so long ago. For anyone who has not seen the film or read the book, it is the tragic story of a young lawyer who is sent to Eel Marsh House to sort through the papers of the late Mrs. Drablow. While he is there, he experiences many unexplained events and is haunted by the ghost of a woman in black – a woman whose presence leads to deadly results.

The book is wonderfully written. You find yourself being drawn into the experiences of the narrator until you begin to feel on edge yourself – something that not many books manage to achieve.  The book less than two hundred pages long and with something gripping happening in every chapter (roughly ten pages long) you can’t help but wanting to read chapter after chapter in one sitting.

I was amazed at how true to the book the film really is. Often filmmakers take advantage and turn the story into something completely different, but in this case it is not true at all. Admittedly the film does introduce the underlying story much sooner to keep the action going, but it still holds on to the essence of the book. The film also uses the advantage of visual and audio effects to build up the suspense to create scenes where the audience cannot help but jump out of their seat…even if you think you can predict what is coming!

The main difference between the book and the film that I encountered was the ending. The film leaves the audience with complete closure and, what could almost be interpreted as a happy ending in the reunion of the lovers and the expelling of the ghost. However, the book offers no real conclusion to the story, somehow making it scarier, as you are still left with questions at the end, which keeps you thinking about the book a long time after you have finished it.

Overall, I found that both the book and the film are wonderful examples of a truly gripping ghost story. The book is a completely unique concept that, even for those who have seen the film, offers something very new and will keep you wanting to read more. The film offers an interpretation of the book that is very true to it, while offering something that people who had already read the book wouldn’t expect. I would strongly recommend both reading the book and watching the film, as even though they tell the same story, they are wonderfully unique.

If you enjoyed this please read my article on the London Olympics: http://bit.ly/IaTK1X

‘The Haunted House’ by Charles Dickens

This morning I just finished reading ‘The Haunted House’ by Charles Dickens. Being both an avid reader of ghost stories and Dickens, I was surprised that I had never heard of this title before. It was originally written in 1859 for Dickens’ weekly periodical All the Year Round. What makes this story unique is the fact that the haunting of each room within the haunted house is told by a different author. Dickens recruited some of his best friends (who also happen to be some of the best writers of the period) such as Wilkie Collins and Elizabeth Gaskell to write ‘hauntings’ of the rooms in the house.

This complete story by different authors gives a fantastic insight into some of the key writers of the Victorian period, as well as building one story from several voices which are literally very different. It is interesting to see how the different authors (and poets) construct very different ghost stories, which act together as a whole story.

While the concept is very interesting, I found some of the stories difficult to follow as the authors all had a different approach to writing a ‘ghost’ story. I was also slightly disappointed that the ‘ghosts’ were less spectral than I had hoped. However, the story is nevertheless very unique and presents a wonderful collection of Victorian authors. At only one hundred pages long it can easily be read in a couple of days and, even though the ending could be seen as disappointing, it still makes for an entertaining and unusual read.

If you enjoyed this please read my article on the London Olympics: http://bit.ly/IaTK1X

‘Witch Child’ by Celia Rees

The other day I happened to come across a copy of ‘Witch Child’ by Celia Rees; a book that I always wanted to read in my early teens but I never got round to it. It was quite a welcome change to read a slightly easier going teen book after the stack of Victorian novels I have read for Uni this year! I had finished the book in a few days and I was reminded of the joy of reading a book that doesn’t require analysing and pulling apart as I read it!

The story is set in 1659, a time of political unrest and of course, the savage witch-hunts. It is told in the form of a journal by a young girl called Mary, who, after her Grandmother’s hanging, discovers that she is a witch. In an attempt to hide her identity and reach safety from persecution she flees to the New World of America. However, overseas life isn’t as any of the travellers expected it, and Mary’s identity cannot be lost so easily.

I was incredibly impressed with this book; it was one that I literally couldn’t put down. I’m glad I finally read it after all these years and it is a book that can appeal to adults and teens alike. At first I was unsure of what to make of the ending as it was left pretty unresolved; however, after considering it, I feel that is the most successful ending Rees could have produced. As we know, there is only one other ending a witch could have expected…

Happy reading!

If you enjoyed this please read my article on the London Olympics: http://bit.ly/IaTK1X