1984 – George Orwell


1984, by George Orwell, like so many other books has been on my to read list for countless years. And also, like so many other books, 1984 has been on my bookshelf for another number of years. Recently though, I finally got around to reading it, and this  is where I decide whether the novel was worth the wait.

So, going into the novel I already knew the general idea. I think i’m pretty spot on in saying that most people do have some kind of understanding as to what Orwell’s 1984 is about, right? For me, my understanding of the novel centred around it being about this idea  of the ‘big brother’, about an all seeing eye, that is constantly watching you. Aside from that though, my knowledge of the actual plot was pretty limited. – And by that I mean I had no idea what was going to happen.

When you read 1984 you can identify why people enjoy this novel so much, and why it may be considered a classic. I found it was a novel that really questioned our modern world and the future that is ahead of us. Specifically when now, in the modern day, nearly 35 years on from when the novel was set this idea of being watched through electronics is something that could very easily become a reality. Though with all these news gadgets, the google home, and amazon echo etc, you really wonder whether this kind of monitoring has already started. Though that’s a debate probably left for another time. So, in general I quite enjoyed this aspect of the novel, and reading about a world that is so obviously monitored and controlled by the people in power.

However, I feel I was left a little bit disappointed (as with anything that is over hyped). I had high hopes for 1984. I was hoping for it to be this really insightful novel, that would stay with me for the days after I finished the last page. But nope, no luck there. I was pretty let down by the novel in general. I feel though, that is not necessarily because of the writing and the novel itself, but more because of the person I am when reading a novel. I was simply expecting more from the plot and something a little more gripping. I mean, the idea of there being an all seeing eye, really does open the door for a multitude of gripping plots. Though there are probably many other authors who have put pen to paper and written a story similar, inspired by Orwell’s work.

Although 1984 has left me feeling slightly disappointed, I am glad that I finally got around to reading it. No more am I in wonder of what Orwell”s pages hold. And though I was not blown away by this novel, I cannot fault the writing. Each page flowed well into the next, and I did keep reading without any stumbles, or any annoyances in regards to the written word. And for that I am grateful, because I would never have gotten through this book at all, let alone at a good pace, if the writing had been as disappointing as the plot.



How to Stop Time – Matt Haig


How to Stop Time is the latest novel by British adult and children’s author Matt Haig. The novel focuses upon Tom, an ordinary looking 41 year old man. Tom though has a rare condition that has seen him live though Elizabethan England, jazz age Paris, New York, currently as an ordinary run of the mill History teacher in a London comprehensive. Tom, clearly, is anything but ordinary, his condition means that he does not age at the same rate as you and I. The novel is a journey of losing and finding oneself, and looks at how long it really takes to learn how to just live.

I read How to Stop Time in just two days, which is testament to Haig’s writing as I rarely read novels so quickly. It was a brilliantly unique story, with a concept that I had not come across before. So, Haig had my attention throughout. It was so interesting to get to know a character who had found himself in such varied eras and setting, as we are so used to a character living in just the one. This I think allowed to a better understanding of Tom as a character and what drove him. But also demonstrated how little changes in terms of family and desires as time goes on. Seeing how far Toms character had progressed and what he had been through in his life really saw me routing for him to find his daughter and to find his peace.

Although from the outset I did find one or two parts of the How to Stop Time pretty predictable – more so about reveal of a ‘bad guy’. I do not feel, like some novels, that this took away from the overall story and ultimately its end. This is because Haig includes an added twist that perfectly steals the show and leaves you feeling a little bit shocked. Which i find is the perfect ending to such a well written, unique book.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading How to Stop Time. This is because it really does make you think about how you live your life, and how you are spending the little time that you have on the planet. I think we are all guilty of underestimating the short amount of time we are given and therefore I would recommend this novel to just about anybody. But even more so because I genuinely haven’t come across many other authors who have touched upon this particular concept. Though, if I am wrong here and you know of novels that do, please share I would love to check them out!


IT – Stephen King


IT is Stephen King’s 22nd book. Though the novel was originally written in 1986, it has recently been thrown back into the limelight due to the hugely successful 2017 film adaptation. The novel itself is slightly different to the 2017 film, as that adaptation only focused upon one part of the novel, when the characters were children. The original novel, however, is set across two time periods: the 1950s and the 1980s. These two parts are not as you may think though, they do not split the book directly in half as you may assume, as I had. Rather they run alongside one another, and as a reader you are continuously swapping between the two periods.

The book focuses upon a small American town called Derry, which is haunted by an entity referred to as ‘IT’ which exploits the fears of the towns children. IT often appears as a clown to lure in its chosen victims, which is how King often describes this entity to his reader. The first time period follows a small group of children who become acutely aware of IT’s presence and decide to take it upon themselves to save the town from its influence. In the second time period though we are introduced to these same children, but as the adults they become.

I actually started reading IT in September, with the hope that I would read the novel in the lead up to Halloween. However, I didn’t actually finish reading King’s book until very recently, in January. I had an unusual approach for IT, and found myself watching the film adaptation before reading the book. – which I don’t usually do, in fear that i’ll be put off of the book, or just get bored because I know the outcome. However, because I knew the film did not cover the whole book, I thought I would be pretty safe. Unfortunately, although I did begin the novel really enjoying it, i slowly found myself dreading picking it up again. I found that King’s novel was just far too long for me. At over a thousand pages, it is the longest novel I have attempted to tackle – and probably the longest I will ever attempt.

I appreciate Stephen King as a writer, and realise when I am reading something that is well written, as IT is. It was a good concept, to combine the time periods and introduce the reader to the child and adult version of King’s characters. That was actually something that i did really enjoy. I liked seeing how the characters had progressed in life, after experiencing the trauma they did, and I liked how the bonds between the characters remained so strong over time. But again, I personally got bored. I felt I wasn’t being introduced to anything new as time went on. The story simply seemed to be repeating itself just with adults instead of children.

So, for me, I wouldn’t recommend Stephen King’s IT if you are not used to a longer read or if you like to be continuously engaged with new and interesting content. But definitely, if you are a Stephen King fan or even just a horror fan, give it a go, you may find that your attention span is far better than mine – which is very likely at the moment!

As I’ve mentioned IT has been recently adapted for the big screen. This was something I thoroughly enjoyed, and would highly recommend to everyone! Though it only focuses upon one part of King’s novel, I do believe there is going to be a second movie made in the future. So, fingers crossed!


The Caller – Chris Carter


The Caller is a 2017 novel by American writer Chris Carter. It is the eighth novel in Carter’s L.A based, Robert Hunter crime series. The novel focuses on a number of murders, whose common connection are the use of a video call via a telephone. Robert Hunter and his fellow detectives find themselves hunting for a predator who uses their victims’ social media to taunt them and feed on their fear.

I am somebody who, like many others, enjoys watching a good crime series and psychological thriller. For some reason though, I rarely enter the crime genre when it comes to literature. When I came across this book, and Chris Carter, I was thoroughly intrigued by the concept. – and The Caller did not disappoint. It touched on all the aspects of a good box set. The novel was suspenseful, it was gripping, it was well written, and at times it was a little bit gruesome – which I always find leaves me wanting more, just to discover what would lead somebody to commit such acts. So, understandably, it did not take me long to finish this novel.

Throughout my reading of The Caller I found I was constantly trying to guess who the culprit was. Though at each turn, and each new murder, my suspicions were ever changing. This I thought was fantastic as so often I find the ending of a story is so easily guessed. So, it felt refreshing to stumble across a novel that did not leave me disappointed at its closure.

I feel that Chris Carter has created a well executed crime novel. Though this should come as no surprise, as I Carter has a background in criminal psychology, helping to make his story look effortless. I will definitely find myself checking out more of Carter’s ‘Robert Hunter’ series, and I would recommend you do the same. Though, if you’re a little bit on the squeamish side, I would probably suggest you avoid these novels.


Saturday – Ian McEwan


Saturday is the 2005 novel by Ian McEwan, and if you haven’t noticed, my university course has been riddled with McEwan’s work. So, it is no surprise that Saturday was a novel I was introduced to during my time at university. The novel focuses on the character of Henry Perowne, a neurosurgeon, and follows his life through a single day in 2003. Henry’s day does not start particularly well, having witnessed a plane ablaze flying past his window during the night. His day continues to be clouded with unease and uncertainty, finding himself amongst crowds of anti-war protesters, in a minor car accident, and having confrontations. So, you could say that this is not an average day in the life of Henry Perowne.

I find McEwan’s work to be very hit and miss, and the idea of a book of this size being set over one day, made me a little apprehensive as to whether I would get on with the novel. Surprisingly though, I enjoyed Saturday. This because I found, as I’d assumed, that the novel being set across just one day did not hinder my enjoyment of it at all. Rather, this approach challenged my previous perception of what a novel should be. I read so many novels that look at big events and choices and learn how these can change people’s lives. So, it was refreshing to experience how small, seemingly insignificant actions and choices can affect somebody just the same.

If you are looking to read a novel in hope of something mesmerizingly entertaining, then definitely avoid Ian McEwan’s Saturday. The same goes if you are looking for a light read before bed or to take away with you on a holiday This is because McEwan’s book is a thought provoking, multi layered piece of fiction, which provides you with a multitude of concepts to think about. Although some might consider this boring when compared to some action-packed thriller novels. I would argue that Saturday offers something interestingly different, something out of the ordinary and is not just going to blend in with the other books on your bookcase.


London: A Travel Guide Through Time – Dr Matthew Green


I first came across Dr.Green’s book London: A Travel Guide Through Time last year when I was spending a lot of time in London. I was not entirely sure what to expect from the book, but reviews boasted that this was a great book when considering the history of London. When I bought the book, I was not sure what to expect. I was not aware whether it had fictional characters and a completely fictional story, or whether it was more like a textbook. What I found upon reading the book though was a slight mixture. Dr.Green’s work takes you through six time periods of time, using you, the reader, as the central character who is navigating through these worlds. As a result, you learn the ins and outs of these different London worlds, through your own eyes – so to speak.

Although this, A Travel Guide Through Time, has a lot of history and a lot of information in its pages I do not feel like I was bombarded with content. Because of this I found myself thoroughly enjoying Dr.Green’s book. Each era that Green delves into is extremely descriptive and informative which allows you, as a reader, to truly feel as though you are on this journey travelling through London. Alongside this though, I really liked how Green would continuously reference London as it is in the present day, and how we would recognise it today. This I loved as it allowed me to have things to compare to, to create a full image of what Green was describing to me in my own head.

My only complaint when it came to the reading of A Travel Guide Through Time was that Green did not use a chronological order when exploring the different eras. For example, the first few section of the book go from 1603 to 1390 then all the way back to 1665. This may not be an issue for some readers, but for me I found that this approach made following the changes between eras a little more difficult. This is because the portrayal of London goes in and out between how developed it was becoming as time continued. Rather than either going back in time one step at a time, or moving forward to the present day one era at a time, which I would have preferred. As I feel this would have been far more effective in understanding how London has progressed through time, to the 21st century London we know today.

If you are looking for a more informative read, full of real life knowledge and a bit of an adventure then this book is worth a read. I read Dr.Green’s London: A Travel Guide Through Time over an extended period of time, simply because I wanted the information to soak in, rather than skim over everything that was being told to me. Though you may have a different experience, and find your way to the end of this adventure in a matter of days.


The Wolf of Wall Street – Jordan Belfort


I have previously seen the Martin Scorsese film of the same name, starring Leonardo Dicaprio, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. So, when I came across Jordan Belfort’s book The Wolf of Wall Street, I knew I just had to purchase it. For the simple fact is, the films are never an accurate representation of a book, and this being a ‘memoir’, I felt there must be so much more to the story than what Scorsese could portray. I was one hundred percent right with my assumption that the book format of The Wolf of Wall Street would provide more information, and a more rounded picture. I did not think it was possible but Belfort’s book was far more shocking and disturbing than the story that Scorsese portrayed.

Though for a heads up if you have not seen the film, the books title will have you believe the book will predominantly be about the stock market. However, this is not the case. Belfort’s memoir is more focused on his drug and alcohol consumption, so much so that it leaves you questioning how he is still alive. – A question I believe he must ask himself. It is interesting that Belfort’s novel refrained from focusing on the struggles through the stock market, to reach his millions, like so many millionaires memoirs are. Instead, The Wolf of Wall Street gave us insights into the troubles and bad choices that can often be made once you have reached your millionaire status. The book perfectly demonstrates the excessive behaviour, the ungratefulness, and the constant need for more that comes with being a member of the super-rich.

I enjoyed The Wolf of Wolf Street, if only for the shock factor. The fact that it is a true story makes Belfort’s tale even more intriguing. Having said that though, the writing is very basic, it will not offer you a challenge and it will not take you on a journey of self-discovery. So, if you enjoy books that do just that, then maybe pass on reading Belfort’s book. Having said that though, this book did not take me long to read, and I found myself finishing it in days. This was even more of a surprise for me as I tend to struggle to read books that I have already half experienced through their film adaptations. So, if you are looking for something a bit different, something a bit shocking, or simply a true story, I would recommend you reading this book.


Duma Key – Stephen King


Duma Key is the 2008 psychological horror by Stephen King. Although I have read a number of King’s short stories, Duma Key is only the second novel of King’s I have read. And again, King was proven that his work is worth the hype that surrounds his back catalogue. The novel centres around Edgar Freemantle, a self-made millionaire, who survives a horrific accident at work. The severity of the accident leaves him with an amputated arm, speech, visual and memory problems and causes him to have terrible mood swings. Following his accident, Edgar moves to a small island in hope an extended vacation will help in his recovery. This island is Duma Key.

I usually get put off by long books, as I find that a novel has to work hard to keep my attention for a long period. Duma Key was around 611 pages and I was a little bit apprehensive as to whether I would successfully complete the novel before boredom stroked. However, I was pleasantly surprised that King was able to keep me interested and engaged throughout the entire novel. Which, I am happy to say, has made me far more open minded when it comes to other books that may be of a longer length.

Duma Key reminded me of King’s short story ‘Obits’. This was due to the way that Edgar was able to make things happen through his paintings. Similarly, in ‘Obits’ the main character was able to kill people by writing up their obituaries. I thoroughly enjoyed ‘Obits’ therefore I was more than happy to read an extended piece of work that had a similar concept. This was because the novel was able to explore the concept in more depth, and we saw Edgar using his new found ‘abilities’ in a variety of ways. This I found to be so much more interesting as we were not just seeing deaths. We were seeing also things like the erasing of a brain tumour, which for me, was far more intriguing of a concept.

Although I thoroughly enjoyed Duma Key, I do feel as though the ending was slightly anticlimactic. I simply felt that there was something missing from the ending chapters of the novel. So, upon finishing the novel I was disappointed. And there’s nothing worse than investing so much time into a novel to only be left disappointed at the end.  I do however realise that I am such a harsh critique when it comes to the end of a story. I am rarely satisfied with a story’ ending, usually because I have already realised where the author is taking me. To King’s credit though I did not guess where he was taking the story of Duma Key, so the ending was a little bit of a surprise.

Although this was the case, I would still recommend Stephen King’s novel, Duma Key. If anything, it is an interesting concept and will truly have you thinking about life. And if you’re somebody who may be put off by King’s work due to his famous psychological/horror approach to his stories, be assured this one will not give you too much of a fright. I believe it is one of his tamer works, though i’m no King expert…so don’t hold me to that.


The Martian – Andy Weir


The Martian is the 2011 science fiction novel by Andy Weir. The story centres around the astronaut Mark Watney, a botanist and an engineer, who with five others travelled to Mars for the mission called Ares III. On the sixth day of the team’s mission however disaster strikes, and the team are forced to make a quick exit from Mars. The twist of this story though is that Mark, who is impaled by an antenna is flung out of sight by extreme winds, as a result he is presumed dead and gets left behind. I say presumed, because it quickly becomes apparent that Mark does not die, he survives, though is stranded on Mars. The novel explores Mark’s isolation on Mars, and the fight for his survival and return to Earth.

If you don’t live under a rock you will be aware that Weir’s novel was adapted into a film starring Matt Damon in 2015. I watched this film prior to reading The Martian. Usually I try to do the opposite, as I find my motivation to read a book hinders when I already know what happens from a film. I was excited to find though, that this order of film then book, did not hinder my reading experience at all! I found myself just as intrigued and swept away with the plot as I would have been had I not seen the film adaptation first. – which I feel is a real testament to Weir’s writing.

First things first, you may be thinking that because The Martian is about space, botany, and engineering, that it is not a book for you. And, I must admit I had similar feelings. Having read sciency novels in the past that included a lot of scientific terms, I was a bit sceptical. This is because I feel that in these types of novels all the language goes over my head, and I simply do not connect with the story or the characters because I do not understand. However, I found that although Weir does include science talk, it is not something that dominates the novel, and the stuff that is there is very accessible. So, if the idea of science talk is the only thing putting you off about reading this book then you have little to worry about.

What I loved most about The Martian is Weir’s character Mark. The novel is by large written through diary logs kept by this character, so we really get a feel for him as a person. The logs are used to reflect of what Mark has been doing throughout the day, and what he plans to do as he continues his mission to survive. Though, they are not as serious and technical as you may imagine. The logs are humorous, thoughtful, and determined accounts which demonstrate the character perfectly. Mark is certainly a character who strives to see the positive in situations, and doesn’t let setbacks stop him. Alongside that though he is an extraordinarily smart and logical thinking individual, if only we were all more like him.

When I began reading The Martian though I did worry that the novel would be one dimensional and would focus entirely on what was happening on Mars. However, after a few chapters, I was happy to see the inclusion of what was happening on Earth, and then further on what was happening on the spaceship that held the rest of the mission teammates. So, throughout the novel we are presented with a very rounded story, which was effective in building up the tension. It was also interesting to see three very different settings, we had Mars, the space stations on Earth and a space shift travelling through space between Mars and Earth. It is not often you get to discover settings that are so different yet so similar at the same time.

Whether you go on to enjoy The Martian or not, what is unarguably brilliant about this story is how everybody rallied around and wanted to help this one man. It truly demonstrates the best in humanity by showing how people come together when somebody is in trouble. Suffice to say, I would highly recommend Weir’s novel. It is a humorous, engaging, and thought-provoking story that is too brilliantly written. I struggle to find faults with Weir’s work on this novel, though if you feel differently, I would love to hear your thoughts.


The Road – Cormac McCarthy


The Road is a post-apocalyptic 2006 novel by Cormac McCarthy. The story focuses upon a father and son who are travelling through a burnt out America, with their sights set on reaching the coast. The duo have nothing but the clothes on their back, a pistol with limited bullets and a small supply of food to keep them going along their journey. The novel sees the pair scavenging through the derelict, burned out towns and cities whilst trying to avoid running into ‘bad guys’ who stalk the roads.

In The Road we are presented with a truly disturbing and terrifying scenario. There are few people left in the world, and some of those left are savage beyond belief. We are not explicitly told what happened to cause such a brutal world, though I believe this leaves for a much more haunting story as so many scenarios could have led to the ultimate downfall of humanity. In all the savagery that we witness though, it is clear that this is a book that acutely portrays the best and the worst of mankind. From the unbreakable, trusting and loving relationship of the father and son to the ‘bad guys’ who we witness keeping prisoners for their cannibalistic needs. With this McCarthy offers us a magnitude of characters that portray how far humans can be pushed.

I finished The Road in two sittings, but if I had had the chance I am certain I would have finished the novel in one go. McCarthy writes with no chapters and allows his novel to flow with the progression of the father and sons travels. So, you find yourself turning page after page with no thought of having a break. Usually, I am all for chapters, and cannot comprehend a novel that does not use them. However, I felt this style was extremely effective for this novel and I truly felt that I was a participant in the journey across America. Not only that though McCarthy’s language and imagery creates some fantastic scenes, so it is difficult not to picture yourself alongside this family.

McCarthy created characters and a novel in The Road that kept you routing for a positive outcome. So much so, that it is so easy to forget that such a terrible situation has already been thrust upon the father and son. Like most, the ending of a novel is something I always battle with. I rarely find that the finishing pages of a novel end in a good or satisfactory way. On the one hand, with McCarthy’s novel, I feel exactly this way. I feel that McCarthy has left so much unsaid, and left me wanting so much more from this world and his characters. However, on the other hand, the journey has been completed, the goal has been met, and in the end we are given a positive outcome. So, it is difficult to argue that The Road ends on a bit of a flat line.

The Road is a novel unlike any others that I have read, and I am a little annoyed at myself for letting McCarthy’s novel sit on my bookshelf for as long as I did. So, I would recommend it to you all without a doubt. Although if you’re currently looking for a light read, something to relax by the pool with on holiday, maybe try something a bit lighter than McCarthy’s post-apocalyptic novel.