Book Review: The Shining by Stephen King

“This inhuman place makes human monsters.”


Through cultural osmosis I had vague images of what this book would be about and the sky high level of scare-factor I could expect. It’s the first horror novel and first Stephen King novel I’ve ever read. As someone who scares very easily I expected to lose a lot of sleep over this book… and yet somehow it didn’t scare me.

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Book Review: How to Be Both by Ali Smith

“Do things just go away? … Do things that happened not exist, or stop existing, just because we can’t see them happening in front of us?”


How to Be Both by Ali Smith has one of those titles that just called out to me. I wasn’t planning on picking it up until I’d already checked it out of the library and brought it home. I think it’s a book that will come to fruition through discussion and taking the time to pick it apart and let it simmer.

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Double Book Review: The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and Articles of Faith

“Give me a girl at an impressionable age and she is mine for life.”


After discussing Articles of Faith by Michael Cannon at university, I found out that the character of Miss Herne was based on the character of Miss Jean Brodie from The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark. Since I’d thought Miss Herne was the most interesting aspect of Articles of Faith I thought I should pick up the original.

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Book Review: The Beach by Alex Garland

“At those times I made an effort to remember sitting in that glade with the shadow of the clock-hand branch lying across the ferns, smoking my cigarette. I chose this moment because it was the last time I could pinpoint, and think: That was me being me. Normal. Nothing much going through my head apart from how pretty the island was, and how quiet. It isn’t that from then on every second in Thailand was bad. Good things happened. Loads of good things.”



I didn’t know a lot about The Beach when I picked it up. All I had was a vague memory of the trailer for the 2000 film adaptation starring Leonardo Dicaprio and (since I was eight back then) thinking it looked really scary. I think that’s the best way to go into a book like this, so I won’t go into too much detail about it. Just like the characters in the book, I feel it’s better to keep everything secretive.

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Book Review: The Character of Rain by Amélie Nothomb

“At three, you’re like an alien, equally fascinated and terrified by what you find. Everything is opaque and new. You must invent new laws based upon your own observation. You have to be little Aristotle twenty-four hours a day, and this is particularly exhausting because you’ve never even heard of Aristotle.”


The Character of Rain is a semi-autobiographical coming of age tale with a twist. Instead of exploring the well-trodden transition from childhood to adulthood, Amélie Nothomb focuses on the even more turbulent transition from unconsciousness to the development of thought and the first seeds of identity during our toddler years. This book was originally published in French and my copy was translated to English by Timothy Bent. It’s a quirky, sometimes funny, sometimes philosophical and always relatable book about those first few years of life and an absolute joy to read.

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Book Review: The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton

“The Age of Pisces, an age of mirrors, tenacity, instinct, twinship, and hidden things.”

I advise anyone who’s daunted by the size of this book (and the Man Booker Award) to get started, because it’s well worth it. I took it a chapter a day (near enough) and looked forward to it with the same feeling I get for my Advent Calendar in December. It added a bit of luxury to the day.


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Book Review: Restless by William Boyd

“One day someone is going to come and take us away.”


This month I had a sudden craving to read something about World War II and spies. I needed something to read that would plunge me into that setting of espionage and secret histories. The synopsis of this book claimed it would give me exactly what I needed and it didn’t disappoint.

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Film Review: Guardians of the Galaxy

Guardians of the Galaxy, the latest instalment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, has become the most surprising box office hit this month. What made a film about a superhero team from space made up of criminals, aliens, a talking raccoon and a tree (that nobody has really heard of before) so successful?


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Discussion: Double Mumbo Jumbo and Sci-Fi


I went to see Guardians of the Galaxy on the 23rd August and I’m still trying to write up my feelings on it over a week later. It did get me thinking about the superhero film genre in general though. So while I try to piece together how I feel about Guardians so that I can write an actual review, I thought I’d post this for now.


After completely falling for Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier earlier this year, I thought I’d have the same reaction to every Marvel film that followed it. Since Avengers I’ve felt that the Marvel films have only been getting better and better with each new instalment. I was ridiculously excited about Guardians, being the next big Marvel film to be released and felt it was guaranteed to be one of my favourites. But as entertaining as it was (and it was very entertaining, don’t get me wrong), I didn’t have the same level of borderline obsession as I did for The Winter Soldier. I felt entertained, but at the same time I felt like there was something about it that just wasn’t for me. Let me explain.


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Film Review: Gravity

These days I tend to watch films at home on Sky or Netflix. The drawback of watching films at home is that I always wind up checking how long is left and finding, to my horror, that we’re under ten minutes in and nothing has pulled me into the story. And then I start to find myself doing other things – like the internet – and missing most of it. Films shouldn’t feel like flashbacks to my least favourite lessons at high school.


Gravity is the first film I’ve seen in a long time that didn’t bore me into having to check the time every ten minutes. It’s kind of weird that a film that doesn’t have a lot going on (at first glance) kept me at the edge of my seat.


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