Colin Kaepernick to release ‘deeply personal’ children’s book inspired by his own childhood

I Color Myself Different will be released on 5th April 2022

I color myself different cover

Colin Kaepernick has just announced he will be releasing a children’s book in 2022 that will be inspired by his own life.

The book, entitled I Color Myself Different, will be published on the 5th of April next year though his own publishing company and Scholastic. According to a statement from the athletes media company this is the first in a multi-book deal. The book’s illustrations will be handled by Eric Wilkerson.

“This story is deeply personal to me, and inspired by real events in my life. I hope that it honors the courage and bravery of young people everywhere by encouraging them to live with authenticity and purpose,” Kaepernick announced in a press release. “I’m excited for Kaepernick Publishing to be collaborating with Scholastic on books with Black and brown voices at the forefront. I hope that our books will inspire readers to walk through the world with confidence, strength and truth in all they do.”

Kaepernick’s work is a picture book “inspired by a significant childhood memory of when Kaepernick first documented that he was different from his adopted white family”, Scholastic has said in a press release. “During a kindergarten exercise on drawing families, Kaepernick remembers putting down the yellow crayon he had been using to draw his family and picking up the brown crayon for himself.

This moment crystallized for him the differences marked by his adoption, and how acknowledging those distinctions could encourage us all to be more accepting of ourselves and each other.”

Colin Kaepernick became a national symbol in the US for racial justice when he first decided to take a knee during the US national anthem before a San Francisco 49ers preseason match back in 2016.

He did so to draw attention to police brutality and systemic racism in the US. Since the end of that season Kapernick has not found a team. NFL teams stand accused of blackballing him simply because of his political stance.

Ellie Berger, president of Scholastic said: “Colin Kaepernick’s inspiring story, with themes of identity, race and self-esteem, will resonate deeply with all kids.”

Yellow Tape and Coffee by Pat Luther Review

A superb debut novel

Advertisements

Let’s kick off with a warning before I start this review. Pat Luther’s Yellow Tape and Coffee is a big book, and I mean a really big book. The print version is 706 pages long, that’s not an easy undertaking for anybody, let alone the casual reader. I think that might put some people off and that’s a huge shame because this is a very good book.

Yellow Tape and Coffee follows a number of different but interwined stories, stories that bring to life four different people from various backgrounds all with their own agendas and ideals.

For four hundred years a secret society of werewolves has remained hidden in Portland, Oregon. Some people want nothing more than to reveal this society, while others will do anything to maintain the status quo. Intriguing right?

For the most part the book is chocked full of action and great character development. There are moments of dullness I have to say but that has to be expected in a book of such epic scale and vision.

The biggest difficulty for me in reading Yellow Tape and Coffee was getting over my initial prejudice about one of its main selling points, werewolves are just not my thing. I think they’re boring, tedious and over done.

I’m thankful to say though that I was wrong. Pat Luther has managed to breathe new life into this over-milked cow.

I have to give special mention to Luther’s writing talents. His work is filled to the brim with wonderful imagery and description while managing to remain concise and flowing. The novel is also well edited, for being 706 pages long there’s little to nothing I would be happy putting in the bin. Some of the dialogue felt a little over bloated sure but for the most I’d personally want nothing to change.

As for the multiple view points this is not really my cup of tea, I like a concise story where I can really get to know one character really well. At points I did dislike the jumping from one person to another but once I’d gotten used to it it was no problem at all. In fact I learnt to findthe mix of characters enthralling, each one was as vivid and intriguing as the last.

The female lead Veer needs special mention however, she is sharp, intelligent and a fierce investing reporter who is uniquely well written. A true example of female protagonist writing done well.

Overall Yellow Tape and Coffee is more than a solid debut, it’s a magnificent one and Pat Luther is certainly one to check out and keep an eye on. He has managed to balance suspense, humour, a little bit of terror and drama in a delightfully composed cocktail of literature.

I would love a sequel to this novel but whatever he writes next will certainly be on my list.

Highly recommended.

Rating…

Rating: 9 out of 10.

You can get a copy for yourself from Amazon.

Dexter in the Dark by Jeff Lindsay Review

The third book in the Dexter series misses the mark

cover of Dexter in the Dark

I have already reviewed the first and second books in the Dexter series so check them out first.

Miami’s part angel part demon sociopath Dexter Morgan battles an evil more powerful than he can imagine in his third outing.

Miami homicide is flummoxed by the ritualistic murders of two young women. Their bodies have been decapitated, burnt, and neatly laid out with their heads being replaced with ceramic bulls’ heads.

Sgt. Deborah Morgan, Dexter’s sister, follows the forensic evidence and arrests professor Jerry Halpern. Yet while the professor languishes in jail the murders continue.

This case clearly calls for the specialised talents of my favourite forensic technician who moonlight in his own time as judge jury and executioner of Miami’s underworld.

Unlike his first two outings however Dexter is on the back foot. This time around the familiar dark spirit that spurs Dexter on in his bloody deeds has left, leaving Dexter all alone.

Dexter’s evil spirit has been driven from his body by other spirits, a scary feeling I’m sure. And of course it couldn’t have come at a worst time for Dexter who’d just begun to bond with his fiancé’s children, Aston and Cody, who seem to have the makings of apprentice serial killers themselves.

This struggle between Dexter and his new demons is a little dull and predictable, certainly in comparison to the first two books.

That beautifully sharp wit of Dexter is still very much present but having to face a future without his dark companion means that the third book is filled with introspection and contemplation, it’s not bad but it’s not great either.

Rating…

Rating: 5.5 out of 10.

Dearly Devoted Dexter Review

You can find my review of the first book in the series, Darkly Dreaming Dexter here.

This second instalment in Jeff Lindsay’s hugely popular Dexter series see’s our horrible yet loveable serial killer become a family man, while still trying desperately to bring his own brand of justice to two mysterious murders.

Dearly Devoted Dexter see’s my favourite murderous blood spatter analyst search for Reiker, an accomplice of a paedophile Dexter’s already had his wicked way with. Not only only that, he must work with his detective sister Deb and federal agent Kyle Chutsky to investigate and find a torturer with ties to El Salvador. All while under the watchful gaze of Sergeant Doakes, a colleague who senses the darkness within Dexter.

Dexter is a wonderfully self aware character who examines his own lack of humanity with the reader with some very funny dark humour, he’s quite charming if truth be told, if you ignore the frequent murdering anyway.

And that’s the biggest selling point for this novel, the likeability of Dexter and his wise cracking narration is easily the best part, at least for me, if you don’t like that kind of thing I’d steer clear of this series.

Dexter likes to tell you he’s a monster, that his dark passenger is really his only personality trait, yet Lindsay writes him with a little more depth and complexity than that. This is shown most evidently in his bond with his sister and step children Astor and Cody.

Lindsay’s reliance on Dexter is however a weakness too. Because his primary protagonist is so compelling he becomes lazy when it comes to the plot. The story here is surface level at best, it’s not overly compelling and is certainly thin at points with Dexter’s snarky narration lending it the thin veneer of competency.

Overall this is a nice fun murderous tale, if you enjoy blood soaked pages interlaced with dark humour then you’ll be pleased here. It’s nothing ground-breaking but it’s still a nice twist on the usual serial killer novels you’ll read.

Rating:

Rating: 6.5 out of 10.

What did you think of our review? Let us know by voting below…

1984 by George Orwell Review

This masterpiece is more relevant today then ever before

When I first read George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four (hence-forth referred to as 1984) I was in school, and it didn’t really hit me as anything brilliant. I found it a little dull and dreary, and the undertones didn’t mean much to me.

Now though Orwell’s dystopian vision of our future really hits home, and it scarily feels a little familiar. We live in a world where Big Brother exists and is always listening and watching, shout out to the NSA, MI6 and the CIA, also let’s not forget to say hi to your Alexa.

Orwell gave us a dark world of never ending wars, where xenophobia is the main weapon of the government, a world where refugees being shot at sea is used for movie inspirations and is cheered in cinemas across the nation. A world where the truth doesn’t truly exist, it is not “something objective, external, existing in its own right” — but instead it’s, “whatever the Party holds to be truth is truth.”

Our books hero though see’s it all a little bit differently than he should. Early on Winston Smith promises to reject the party line and instead promises to defend “the obvious” and “the true”. As he tells himself “Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four,” even though his party will insist that “two and two make five”.

Within this novel Orwell gives us a dark dystopia called Oceania, a place where the government controls everything, even its own reality. Propaganda is ever present within people lives, where ridiculous tabloids and sex-filled movies are made to control them and keep their interests away from politics and history.

Books and news articles are regularly and routinely rewritten so that the past becomes a blurry mess where the truth is hidden and twisted into the parties version of reality.

Advertisements

Unsurprisingly 1984 hits harder in this modern world of fake news and ‘post-truths’, a world where nationalism is on the rise and where ‘alternative facts’ are just as relevant to people than the objective truth.

This is a world not unlike Orwell’s hellish vision of 1984.

Perhaps we should all take after Winston a little more, take a look around ourselves and rebel a bit.

It is scary to see how easily our world could fall under the control of a twisted and cruel overlord, where the truth is not what we see but what we are told. A world where an ever present and omnipotent power can see and control our every waking thought and movement. A world where our very lives are in their hands.

That I think is the most frightening but power notion that Orwell presented to us in 1984. He gave a stark warning for the entirety of the human race, a warning to resist mass control and oppression, and not blindly allow it to take control.

Rating:

Rating: 10 out of 10.

What do you think of our review? Let us know by voting below…

AK Blakemore wins Desmond Elliott prize for a ‘stunning’ debut novel

The Manningtree Witches takes the £10,000 first novel award

The author AK Blakemore has won the Desmond Elliott prize for best debut for her historical novel about the English witch trials in the 17th century. The Manningtree Witches was praised heavily by judges who called it a “stunning achievement”.

The novel follows the character of Rebecca West, a husbandless and fatherless woman who is only just tolerated by the villagers of Manningtree. The story showcases the fallout of events after a pious newcomer called Matthew Hopkins begins to ask villagers about the women on the margins of their society.

This is Blakemore’s first novel, although she does also have two published poetry collections under her belt.

“My dad lives in Manningtree so it was an area I knew quite well. The process of the writing began when I was in a fallow period of writing poetry. I was messing around with prose, just to have something to write, and the story just really sort of jumped out at me,” Blakemore said.

“I didn’t really have the intention of writing and completing a novel, it started as play. But coming at it from poetry, I had a decent sense in writing of aesthetics and a cinematic, graphic way of composing scenes in my mind. And something about having a story from history that already had a beginning, middle and end, was quite liberating in that sense.”

Advertisements

The Manningtree Witches beat other shortlisted novels such as little scratch by Rebecca Watson and The Liar’s Dictionary by Eley Williams. Blakemore will take home the £10,000 prize.

A previous winner of the prize, Lisa McInerney, was one of this year’s judges and said that Blakemore’s tale “takes limited historical detail and, with what seems like effortless grace and imagination, crafts a breathing, complex world full of wrenchingly human characters, and tells us their stories in language that bears endless rereading, so clever and unexpected and pleasurable it is”.

The author herself said that she was “really, really thrilled” to win. “And honoured – the shortlist was just full of amazing books.”

How is the idea of Good and Evil explored in Moby Dick?

Let’s explore how Herman Melville shows the differences between good and evil in his masterpiece Moby Dick

Moby Dick book cover

In Herman Melville’s masterpiece Moby Dick the author is eager to tell us a tale of good and evil. These two opposing forces are represented everywhere throughout his story, the vying battle between the two is the back bone of the entire novel. Good versus evil, love against hate, forgiveness or revenge, they are all explored throughout its many pages. This is one of the reasons for its enduring popularity amongst readers.

Some readers consider the great Moby Dick to be the character best placed to represent the evil force. Yet this whale, no matter how huge and scary is still simply that, a whale. He is an animal with no conscious ability to be rational, he is simply an animal living within his natural habitat.

So for me the obvious representation of evil is Captain Ahab. Ahab’s entire world is seeking out the whale that dismember him many years ago. He is a man consumed by one single goal, a goal to bring about death to a creature that has no understanding of what is happening. Captain Ahab is a man possessed by the idea of killing the great white whale, and he doesn’t care what happens as long as that end goal is achieved.

Yet Ahab is also not a one dimensional man, he is a tortured man. He is certainly not a cardboard figure of evil. “Once the captain throws his pipe overboard, he takes a turn for the worse,” here Melville is showing us that the Captain has become so overwhelmed with his need for revenge on Moby Dick that he no longer enjoys little acts, such as his pipe, as he once did.

Yet we must also remember that Captain Ahab leads his entire crew – baring Ishmael – to their death, for nothing more than petty vengeance. The true evil in this novel is the very human traits of stubbornness and obsession. A sentient and conscious man is willing to throw away everything to wreak his vengeance upon a creature who acted simply out of instinct and not malice.

Advertisements

The presence of good is shown in the novel most clearly in the character of Queequeg, who was once a barbaric cannibal but who now embodies the ideals of ‘Christianly’ behaviour more than any of the other men aboard the Pequod.

While Ishamel and Queequeg’s relationship starts off with a brawl and attempted murder at the Spouter-Inn, it quickly turns into a beautiful friendship.

The reader gets to see the true heart of Queequeg for the first time when the two men fall asleep beside one another. When the two awaken the ‘savages’ arm lies draped across Ishmael in an affection manor, or as Melville describes it, as if Ishamel were “his wife”.

Queequeg also shows incredible modesty when dressing in the morning ing, even attempting to hide himself as he pulls on his boots. This moment shows the two sides of Queequeg, the savage and the civilised man: “if he were a savage he wouldn’t consider boots necessary, but if he were completely civilised he would realise there was no need to be modest when pulling on his boots”.

While this theme of friendship becomes less prominent once the Pequod unfurls its sails Queequeg does still save Ishmael’s life, albeit indirectly. Yet he also saves two other men from drowning while acting as harpooner aboard the vessel.

Queequeg’s presence within the novel slips as it draws towards the great climax as Melville begins to darken the tone and focus upon the aggression and hatred of the captain. However, his greatest action occurs at the novel’s finale.

While suffering from a fever Queequeg believes he is at deaths door and asks the ship’s carpenter to construct him a coffin in the form of a canoe to remind him of home. The coffin is not needed however as Queequeg makes a full recovery, it therefore becomes the ships new life-boat, which in turn is the only thing that allows Ishmael to survive Moby Dick’s attack and the Pequod’s demise.

Melville also shows us how good and evil can manifest itself through the journey of ones life. For instance Queequeg lived a life of bliss on the island of Kokovoko where he was the son of a King, yet he hated the life of idleness and insisted instead on becoming a whaler and exploring the world, the pampered life was not for him. Ishmael similarly wanted to see the rest of the world, not to escape idleness but instead to combat the early stages of a creeping depression. All of this is in stark contrast to Captain Ahab who’s sole reason for the journey was revenge, cruel and selfish revenge. Ahab is swept up in his manic desire to kill Moby Dick and the end result is a grizzly and unnecessary demise for his whole crew.

Overall Melville does well to give us good and evil characters with layers and depth. Captain Ahab has all the characteristics of a tragic hero, he has a great heart but tragic flaws. Yet it is his final actions and manic obsession with revenge that destroys his heart and leaves him simply as a flawed and hate filled villain. Queequeg on the other hand may appear to be a savage but his heart stays pure and he has a truly noble spirit.

Melville shows us that we cannot simply judge a person by their appearance, that titles and riches do not matter, it is only the heart that can be judged to show ones true self.

Lord of the Flies by William Golding Review

Lord of the Flies cover

During the silent but terrifying Cold War William Golding produced his masterpiece, Lord of the Flies. Not only is it a gripping tale about a group of schoolboys forced to survive on a deserted island after a plane crash, it is also a brilliant allegorical tale about the conflicts between civilization and primal savagery.

This simple and easy to understand symbolism has made Lord of the Flies on of the most popular and beloved books in the world. It is a memorable and chilling tale with characters portrayed with nuance and subtlety.

The novel focuses on a series of events that occur after a plane crash leaves a group of young schoolboys stuck on a deserted island at the height of a nuclear armageddon. It is at its heart a story of those boys shocking survival.

At the beginning the boys feel like their dreams have miraculously come true. They find themselves master of their own domain, without an annoying adult to be found. However, it doesn’t take long for them to realise they need a leader, someone to follow. The books main protagonist, a boy named Ralph, is quickly chosen to lead the group, thanks mostly in part to his popularity.

It isn’t long though before dissent begins to ferment. What appeared to be a dream situation at first quickly unravels and sinister moments quickly sprout up throughout the story.

The Lord of the Flies is a thought provoking and action-packed story of surviving against all the odds, but it’s also deeper than that.

William Golding uses his novel to explore three important aspects of human society. Human’s gravitate naturally towards social and political order, we want and need legislation and governments to have order in our society, hence the boys use of the conch and platform.

Secondly human’s are naturally inclined to being violent and savage if given the chance. This leads to a natural need for a military for defence, as shown by the boys who become hunters and then murderers.

Finally Lord of the Flies shows us that human society is naturally tuned to believe in divine interventions and supernatural beings, as shown in the sacrifices and dances the boys use to appease what they call the “beast”.

If you have never had the chance to read Lord of the Flies before now I heartily recommend you rectify that immediately.

Using the Epic of Gilgamesh and Beowulf lets discuss typical elements of the Epic Tradition and its influence on modern fiction

Beowulf

The epic tradition represents a record of heroic actions that were once celebrated through song and folktale. Examples of epic stories that started out as folklore and were then written down are the epics of Gilgamesh and Beowulf.

The epic tradition includes key elements such as the epic hero and the form of an epic poem, which thus provides the rhythm which made it easily able to be sung. The epic tradition has influenced fiction over time, and certain elements can still be found in modern fiction today although altered as times have changed.

A key aspect of the Epic tradition as shown in both Gilgamesh and Beowulf is that of an Epic hero. An epic hero is ‘a brave and noble character in an epic poem, admired for great achievements or affected by grand events: Beowulf, an epic hero with extraordinary strength’ (dictionary.com).

The Epic hero has to be someone of high status, preferable a royal and they must have aspects of greatness and superhuman qualities, such as great strength and courage, and in the case of Gilgamesh, the epic hero has connections to the Gods, showing the hero to be above all others.

The epic hero also has to in some way achieve greatness within the story, Gilgamesh for example changes drastically from being a mean and uncaring king, to becoming great and compassionate by realizing the importance of love and loss and Beowulf begins as a highly regarded prince and by the end he has become legendary by his brilliant courage in defeating the evil of the world.

The epic hero features prominently in mythology, such as in the two Greek poems The Lliad and The Odyssey with the epic heroes, Achilles and Odysseus, both central figures in the Trojan War. These two are key examples of epic poetry in ancient literature.

Gilgamesh

Further aspects of the epic tradition is the fact that stories such as Gilgamesh and Beowulf weren’t written for the purpose of being a novel, but instead were simply a story or folk lore which was told and passed down through generations, and often recited to music until finally being written down. This means that the story has no determinable author and is told as a third person narrative. The story is also not set out as a novel but as more of an epic poem told in a refined manner. As the stories of the epic tradition were primarily for oral transmission they include long speeches and often the story is told through a series of flashbacks.

This means that the stories do lack description and imagery which are fundamental aspects of modern novels, and instead were written as more of a chronology of events and facts and was written as evidence of heroic actions.

The epic tradition has had great impact on modern literature. All novels have a hero, and although they are no longer what one would call epic, as they are not necessarily of high status or do not possess superhuman qualities they are still heroes.

In Shakespearean plays, there are tragic heroes, which contrast to the epic hero, as the tragic heroes usually start off great but through their own flaws they become tragic and fall from their heroic status. Although tragic heroes in Shakespeare’s plays are not exactly the same as the epic heroes, the epic narratives and heroes have greatly influenced the plays as they all centre around one hero, a hero that like that of the epic narratives, is of a high status.

Although the tragic heroes have flaws and at times do bad things, they are essentially good and essentially heroic in the outcome. The tragic hero of Hamlet although different from the epic hero of Beowulf, still achieves a form of greatness by exposing his murdering uncle.

Advertisements

The tragic hero is also represented in the novel of Frankenstein. The influence of the epic tradition on modern literature can also be seen in the story of Robinson Crusoe, as you see a man exert extraordinary courage and strength to survive in a hostile environment, much the same as the epic heroes of the past.

However in the case of Robinson Crusoe, the hero is a sailor and not someone of noble birth or high status. This represents the changes in society at the time the novels are written. In modern times an average man or ‘underdog’ achieving great things is considered more epic than someone of a privileged status. However although Gilgamesh was a noble who was two-thirds God he himself much like the tragic heroes had flaws which meant that he was not very liked and could even be viewed as a villain at the beginning of the story.

But whereas the tragic heroes begin as respected and then are brought down by their mistakes, Gilgamesh learns from his mistakes and after a heroic quest he becomes a hero worthy of the name. The way in which the heroes are represented and the journeys they take determine the differences between the epic hero and the tragic hero.

Hilary Mantel repeats Walter Scott Prize success

The author takes top prize for the grand finale of her Thomas Cromwell trilogy

Cover of The Mirror and the Light

Hilary Mantel has managed to bag herself the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction for a second time.

The novelist won the award for her novel The Mirror and the Light, the final instalment in her Thomas Cromwell trilogy, the first book in the series, Wolf Hall won her the first award 11 years ago.

The author said she was “amazed and delighted2 to once again win the £25,000 prize.

Mantel will also be taking part in the Borders Book Festival later this year to celebrate her win and mark the 250th anniversary of Walter Scott’s birth.

The Walter Scott award was set up in 2010 when Ms Mantel won the inaugural award for her brilliant novel Wolf Hall.

The award is normally announced at the Borders Book Festival in June however that has been moved back to November in the hopes that it will be able to go ahead with fewer Covid restrictions.

Judges said that Mantel had “achieved the almost unachievable” with a novel which closed a trilogy but could also stand “magnificently alone”.

“With consummate technical skill married to the keenest ear for dialogue and the sharpest eye for rich and telling detail, Hilary Mantel resettles the reader at Thomas Cromwell’s shoulder for a psychodrama that begins and ends with a blade,” they said.

“The finale is both well-known and inevitable and yet – as the judges long pondered with astonished admiration – the suspense never fades.”

The author said that the prize will bring “great hope” to historical fiction authors.

“I’m so happy personally that The Mirror and the Light has won this recognition,” she said.

“It was certainly the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and I know the author isn’t always the best person to judge, but it seems to me to be the strongest of my trilogy of novels about Thomas Cromwell.

“It launched the trilogy in fine style when the first volume Wolf Hall won the Walter Scott Prize, and now this rounds off the many years of effort.”

William Shakespeare’s Star Wars: Verily, a New Hope Review

Who’d have thought that Star Wars and Shakespeare go hand to hand perfectly?

Well it turns out that author Ian Doescher did and he hits it out the park with ‘Verily, A New Hope’ the first entry in his Star Wars/Shakespeare saga.

As it turns out, the story of Star Wars, with all of its drama, tragedy, romance, humour, and amazing characters fits brilliantly into Shakespeare literary world.

As a big Star Wars fan, and somewhat of a Shakespeare admirer I jumped at the chance to check this book out, and boy am I glad I did.

I love A New Hope, I know the story inside and out, but this was like experiencing it all over again for the first time. As soon as I opened the book and read a Shakespearian version of the famous opening scroll I knew I was in for one hell of an enjoyable experience.

For the most part the script here follows the events of A New Hope beat for beat. Every now and then though the author is able to take advantage of creative license and grants a character an aside or a soliloquy to convey their feelings to the audience, it’s very Shakespearian, and it’s very fun.

Advertisements

What is strange reading this book though is seeing how the art of storytelling has evolved over time.

Today writers are told to show don’t tell, they have to show a characters thoughts and motivations, simply telling the reader about them is too easy, too simple for a modern audience. Yet Shakespeare is filled with character soliloquies where we are told in no uncertain terms about their emotions, thoughts, and desires.

Even though the story being told here is only 40ish years old it felt like reading something from hundreds of years ago, it felt utterly foreign.

I loved it though, no matter how strange it felt to read. Where it would really shine though is on the stage, as all of the great Bard’s works do. This is made for the theatre and boy would that be a treat.

11.22.63 by Stephen King Review

If you could go back in time and change the course of human history would you do it? Even if it meant sacrificing so much of your own life in the process?

Well that’s the premise of Stephen Kings 54th fiction book, 11.22.63.

King gives us a new protagonist in the form of Jake Epping, a high school English teacher from Lisbon Falls Maine, because of course he is. It doesn’t take long for King to uproot our heroes life and sent him hurting back through time to the world of 1958 small town America.

Gone are the cell phones and tablet computers, now Jake finds himself in a world filled with Elvis, Plymouth cars, a beautiful librarian called Sadie Dunhill, and of course a troubled loner called Lee Harvey Oswald, a man who slowly comes to dominate Jake’s life.

11.22.63 is Stephen King at something resembling his best. His prowess with weaving together political, social and popular culture into this version of baby-boom America is exquisite. The suspense is palpable across most of its many pages, not to mention its many trips through time.

King is best known for his out and out horror novels, and while this certainly isn’t a horror book it does have enough existential and psychological dread to keep the heart pounding and the mind racing.

The complexities and ethical dilemmas of time travel are well explored in 11.22.63, what will altering the past do to the future? What will it mean for Jake personally? Will he really be creating a better world or is that some naïve hope he must cling to to see his mission fulfilled?

We think you’ll enjoy…

You see no matter how long Jake spends in the past when he returns to his own time only two minutes will have elapsed, this allows him the chance to go back in time over and over again to the same point and keep trying to change the past and the future. If something doesn’t work out to his liking, and quite often it doesn’t, he can try again, but something, perhaps the past itself, really doesn’t like being changed. The closer Jake gets to his goal the more something out their in the universe wants him to fail.

Advertisements

While this was a good read, with many interesting questions to ponder, it does get bogged down a little during the middle section. Across many of the middle chapters the suspense and tension we had come to love waned slightly, never disappearing but certainly lessening its grip upon you. During this part King focuses on the romance between Jake and Sadie, which while interesting was certainly a good deal longer than it needed to be, about two hundred pages longer if I’m honest.

Once we get into the final third of the book though the action picks up once again and King does a good job at answering most of the questions he posed at the beginning. It’s a mostly satisfying conclusion which wasn’t quite worth the lengthy wait but rounded out the story nicely enough.

All in all this was a good read that I’d recommend for fans of King or time travel stories in general. Just be warned it is a long slog and the ending isn’t quite worth the time invested. King is great at creating his characters, and Jake is no exception, he’s a down on his luck teacher striving to find purpose in the mess that his life has become, he’s no larger than life hero, he’s simply a man doing what he believes is right. But not amount of interesting characters will improve the poor pacing on offer here.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.

11.22.63 is available from Amazon.

Spellbreaker by Charlie N. Holmbury Review

Spellbreaker is the first book book in a brand new two book series written by bestselling author Charlie N. Holmberg. This series will be set in an alternate Victorian-era England where magic is common, and where those who can wield it are the powerful and wealthy elite.

The books heroine, Elsie Camden, is a lowly orphan who also happens to be an unregistered spellbreaker and member of the clandestine group, The Cowls, who undertake missions to protect the common people from the abuse of the magical elite.

During one of these, for lack of a better word, goodwill assignments, her spellbreaking abilities are discovered by another wizard, Bacchus Kelsey, and she must make a deal with him if she wants to escape prison.

As Elsie struggles under her various allegiances she becomes enraged and her true loyalties are tested like never before.

This is not your typical fantasy novel. It takes place in a small area of the overarching world and has a small cast of characters. This is a book about relationships more than anything else. There’s no high stakes end of the world stuff here, this is good old fashioned character development at the front and centre.

There’s not much to be found here though for fantasy readers who love a darker and gritter look at the magical worlds. There’s little challenging or unpredictable here, its quite simple and straightforward if truth be told.

Yet there are likeable characters that are well written and fleshed out to the point that I can recall their mannerisms and quirks long after I finished reading.

Elsie for instance is a charming and loveable heroine who takes on the Robin Hood mantle for this novel. She strikes back at the haughty elite in defence of the downtrodden.

She is overly naïve at points, and we as a reader are way ahead her for most of the story, which is frustrating to read, and we spend more time shouting at her to hurry up to her inevitable realisation, than we do enjoying the story.

The plot is convenient and simple, it never surprises or astounds you. Elsie is a simple but charming character who never does anything out of the ordinary, she is also predictable and boring. She is however, loveable, and willing to sacrifice everything for those around her, making her one of the most likeable protagonists I’ve met for a while.

You may also like…

But Elsie is not the only protagonist of this novel. Bacchus is a secondary hero who has his own point-of-view chapters. These chapters are great at launching his character and fleshing out his desires and objectives.

Bacchus is a wizard on the verge of attaining his mastery but he has sympathise for Elsie and her motives thanks to his own backstories. Bacchus struggles to fit into the English magical elite thanks to his lowdown status, giving him an innate connection with Elsie.

The romance between Elsie and Bacchus feels quite forced if I’m honest, its nice and the payoff is good but it doesn’t feel at all natural. There’s no chemistry between the two and the beginning of their relationship is filled with blackmail, distrust and resentment. There is little in the way of authentic evolution here to ever see them as genuine lovers.

Their relationship may feel satisfying on the face of it but when you think about it it’s a little shallow and disappointing.

The plot of the novel is simple and straightforward but it’s still satisfying to read and enjoy. The villain is easy to determine but the journey of our heroes to their realisation is satisfying regardless.

There are a number of plot threads left hanging for us to keep us intrigued for the next book, a book I myself will be looking out for, but one I don’t expect much from.

Rating: 7 out of 10.

Spellbreaker is available from Amazon.

The lawsuit over ‘warmer’ Sherlock depicted in Enola Holmes dismissed

The estate of Arthur Conan Doyle has reached an agreement with Netflix that will see a lawsuit brought by the author’s estate dismissed. The lawsuit was filed earlier this year against the streaming company and alleged that the film Enola Holmes infringed upon copyrighted work by depicting a warmer and more emotional version of Sherlock Holmes.

Conan Doyle died in 1930 and while most of his works are now in the public domain 10 of his famous detective novels are still under copyright in the US.

The lawsuit was brought not only against Netflix but also against the film’s producers Legendary Pictures and the Enola Holmes author Nancy Springer. It argued that Conan Doyle had created “significant new character traits for Holmes and Watson” within the 10 stories that are still under copyright in the US.

The Doyle estate argued that Holmes had previously been depicted by Conan Doyle as “aloof and unemotional,” but when the author sadly lost his son and brother during the first world war, “it was no longer enough that the Holmes character was the most brilliant rational and analytical mind. Holmes needed to be human. The character needed to develop human connection and empathy … He became capable of friendship. He could express emotion. He began to respect women.”

According to the lawsuit the novels by Springer, in which she created a younger sister for Holmes, made “extensive use” of the copyrighted books and that this “constitutes wilful, deliberate, and ongoing infringement of the Conan Doyle Estate’s copyrights”.

In response to these accusations the defendants had argued that feelings, personalities and emotions were not protectable. “Even if the Emotion Trait and Respect Trait were original to copyright protected works, which they are not, they are unprotectable ideas,” they said. “Copyright law does not allow the ownership of generic concepts like warmth, kindness, empathy, or respect, even as expressed by a public domain character – which, of course, belongs to the public, not plaintiff.”

The lawsuit however has now been dismissed with prejudice by stipulation of all parties. “That means the case was probably settled, although we don’t know for sure,” wrote Aaron Moss at Copyright Lately. “Sherlock Holmes might be able to figure it out, unless he’s too busy deciding where to go on vacation once the last of his stories enters the public domain [in the US] in two years.”

This is good news for a number of authors who in recent years have worked on their own Holmes centric stories. The author James Lovegrove has written seven Sherlock Holmes novels and had this to say on the suit, “Holmes has always shown emotions, though not necessarily desirable ones. I think what they were trying to suggest was, because he was sensitive to his sister and had respect for her, even though he normally in the canonical stories doesn’t have a great deal of time for women, they felt that that was something that they could go with. But why? He didn’t have a sister in the canonical stories at all.”

Richard Osman becomes first debut author to be Christmas No 1

Richard Osman’s mystery novel about a group of elderly wannabe detectives, The Thursday Murder Club, has just become the first ever debut novel to become the Christmas number 1 after selling a staggering 134,514 copies in just one week.

The Pointless presenter has beat out the likes of Barack Obama’s memoir A Promised Land and JK Rowling’s The Ickabog to the coverted number 1 spot.

Osman’s novel has been flying out of bookstores all over the UK since it was first published in September and has sold more than twice the number of copies of Obama’s memoirs in the past week.

A Promised Land managed to sell 66,531 copies in the week to 19 December, which isn’t quite enough for the former US president to match the feat of his wife Michelle when she took the number 1 spot two years ago.

Osman also managed to beat David Walliams whose popular children books have been number 1 for three of the last four years. His latest offering, Code Name Bananas, managed to sell 55,129 copies bringing it firmly into 3rd place.

“Congratulations to Richard Osman on scoring the Christmas No 1 crown,” said Hazel Kenyon, Nielsen Book Research director. “I very much look forward to seeing him now appear as an answer on Pointless to a question on Christmas No 1 bestsellers.”

The top list has been released as bookshops in tier 4 areas have been forced to close just days before Christmas. The Bookseller magazine said that the last week of Christmas shopping is typically worth between £60-90m in sales and that this year we could have reached £100m had shops not been forced to close.

Advertisements

UK Top 10 bestsellers, week ending 19 December 2020

1. The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman 134,514
2. A Promised Land by Barack Obama 66,531
3. Code Name Bananas by David Walliams 55,129
4. Pinch of Nom: Quick & Easy by Kay Featherstone and Kate Allinson 52,955
5. The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse by Charlie Mackesy 52,099
6. Guinness World Records 2021 35,229
7. Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart 31,218
8. The Ickabog by JK Rowling 31,159
9. A Del of a Life by David Jason 23,973
10. A Life on Our Planet by David Attenborough 23,686