2015 Book Reviews (January – June)

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2015 Books

Here are my book reviews from January to June of 2015. I decided to break this year into two since I read a considerable amount in half a year (almost the same as ALL of 2014!) All reviews are spoiler free & I’ve given a small summary of the plots. I also have my own rating below each book. There are books I’ve read for uni & for leisure. I read more after my semester had ended since I was quite busy with college work. But anyway, enjoy!


My rating system is as follows:

10/10: Absolute classic/ Mind blowing/ life changing.

9/10: Amazing/ Superb.

8/10: Excellent/ Fantastic.

7/10: Great/ Enjoyable.

6/10: Good/ Solid.

5/10: Average/ Ok.

4/10: Disliked it.

3/10: Detested it.

2/10: Hated it with a passion.

1/10: Shouldn’t have been written/ Absolute Garbage.


1. The Bone Clocks (2014) – David Mitchell.

Rating: 9/10.

My third David Mitchell novel, you can see my full review here. Thoroughly enjoyed this novel. It follows the life of Holly Sykes through 6 different time eras. I loved the fantasy elements of this novel, it was so intricately woven throughout. It’s kept interesting by the introduction of many characters who weave in and out of Holly’s story with their own tales to tell. I particularly liked Ed Brubeck’s war stories. Highly recommended, another of Mitchell’s great works!

2. Wuthering Heights (1847) – Emily Brontë.

Rating: 3/10.

I’m sorry to all the Brontë fans out there. I just didn’t like this novel. I read this for my Victorian Literature class. The characters were just horrible to one another and they complained about everything. They’re such “woe is me” characters, I just couldn’t stand it. I remember one bit where Heathcliff growled and gnashed like a dog while frothing at the mouth and I was like “I can’t read this. This is awful.”  I gave 2 stars for Ellen who had to put up with these annoying characters & another star for the momentary kindness the kids give each other during childhood.

3. Kim (1901) – Rudyard Kipling. 

Rating: 7/10.

I read this for my Colonial/ Postcolonial Literature class. I enjoyed this. It gave a great insight into the various sects in India and the colonial past of India. I thought Kim’s character was hilarious and he was so sneaky. The story involves Kim, a young boy who goes on a journey with a monk in search of enlightenment (I think!) The espionage is exciting. Kim’s a wee bit racist at times to different ethnic groups & the story does go off point at bit, but a good read all the same.

4. Heart of Darkness (1899) – Joseph Conrad.

Rating: 7/10.

Another book I had to read for Colonial/ Postcolonial. Oddly enough, after I read this I kept hearing people referring to it- in books, tv shows, movies. I mean it’s good, but I didn’t think it was that prominent. The book tells the story of a group of explorers in Africa. It describes the natives as cannibals and there is a great discussion on the western perspective and what one considers to be civilised. Great read, and short as well I think.

5. The Lonely Londoners (1956) – Sam Selvon.

Rating: 6/10.

Another C/PC book. It tells the story of west Indians who immigrate to London in search of a better life. The language here is colloquial. It’s written who west Indians speak so very interesting! It is a bit hard to read but you get used to it. It gives a good insight into immigrant experience. It is a bit lacking in plot and it’s a bit random.

6. The Moonstone (1868) – Wilkie Collins.

Rating: 8/10.

I read this for Victorian. I really enjoyed this. A great detective novel. We’re presented with a lot of perspectives and evidence and it’s like we’ve to figure out who stole the diamond. Great twists throughout!

7. The Pit & the Pendulum (1842) – Edgar Allen Poe.

Rating: 8/10.

I just read this because I wanted a little break from college books and it was a pretty quick read. Basically, a man is stuck in a pit and it shows his agony and torture there. Harrowing as usual, but its Poe!

8. The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890) – Oscar Wilde.

Rating: 8/10.

Finally read Wilde, which every Irish person should! Read this for Victorian. This was a great satire on Victorian society and on homosociability. It follows Dorian Gray as he doesn’t age while his painting becomes more decrepit. A lot of social commentary in this novel. A good read for everyone.

9. Aristotle & Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe (2012) – Benjamin Alire Sáenz.

Rating: 7/10.

A good LGBT novel, and even more because it follows two Mexican boys, so it’s really good for the marginalised out there. It’s a coming of age story of two boys and there lives as the go through there teenage years. Poignant at times, it’ll make you smile. It was slightly repetitive at times & I would’ve like more romance (but that’s just me). A great read all the same.

10. To the Lighthouse (1927) – Virginia Woolf.

Rating: 8/10.

One of my friends LOVES Virginia Woolf, so I was looking forward to reading this. I did like this book. I enjoyed the depiction of family life, especially all the tension that was between certain family members. The perception of male/ female was also really interesting.

11. Season of Migration to the North (1966) – Tayeb Salih.

Rating: 6/10.

Another C/PC novel. It discuss the idea of hybrid identities. The main character comes home after studying in England. It compares ideas of the West with Africa.

12. The Hobbit (1937) – J.R.R. Tolkien. 

Rating: 9/10.

A really great fantasy novel. I loved this. I felt it was so fast- paced even though some said it was slow. It was filled with action, drama and laughs. It was a bit tame, but in fairness it was aimed at children. I thought it was superb and had a great flow throughout. Some bits were creepy, like the cave scene with Gollum. By far the best scene in the novel. Can’t wait to tear into LOTR.

13. Good Morning, Midnight (1939) – Jean Rhys.

Rating: 6/10.

This period novel gives a depiction of Paris during the 30’s. It involves a woman who seems to be drifting in society. She’s very depressed and lonely and drinks quite a lot (even for me)! It’s mostly just her thoughts and there’s not much plot to it.

14. Guardian (2014) – Alex London.

Rating: 7/10.

I adored the prequel to this novel: Proxy. That’s why I was seriously disappointed by this book. I just didn’t have the umph of it’s predecessor. Even the characters seemed to have lost their pizazz. The characters in this book have to fix a problem with society and they spend the whole novel either talking about it or trying to get somewhere. There was nothing really in this, if you get me. The society is also problematic and the disease thing made no sense. It’s also slow to get into.

15. Dubliners (1914) – James Joyce.

Rating: 9/10.

My first time reading another of Ireland’s greatest writers – Joyce. I loved this novel. It has a number of short stories following the lives of a number of people living in Dublin. They all have their own stories. It is a great depiction of Dublin’s culture and the city life. It has its laughs, drama, tragedy, etc. My favourites were “After the Race” & “Counterparts” which both involve drinking!. :L I really enjoyed it, a must read!

16. Atonement (2001) – Ian McEwan.

Rating: 9/10.

I adore the film, one of my all time favourite films, so I had to read the novel. It’s a brilliant depiction of Pre-WWII & WWII itself. It’s just a beautifully written novel which a great romance. Great characters and settings, there are real harrowing circumstances for each of the characters. Brilliant period drama.

17. Murder on the Orient Express (1934) – Agatha Christie.

Rating: 8/10.

My second Christie novel. Another good detective story, not quite as good as Death on the Nile. This didn’t have quite as much drama or build up to it. The murder occurred relatively early in the novel, so most of the novel is just investigation. I would’ve liked more exploration of Istanbul but I suppose it was more about the train. The twist is quite mind blowing though!

18. Harry Potter & The Philosopher’s Stone (1997) – J.K. Rowling.

Rating: 9/10.

Ok I’ll be honest, up until now, I’d only read Harry Potter 4-7, I’d never read the first three. I started on 4 and never got around to reading the first 3. But it was an enjoyable and poignant read! Really funny, loved seeing the characters when they were young.

19. The Knife of Never Letting Go (2008) – Patrick Ness.

Rating: 7/10.

This was a pretty good dystopian novel, which also had fantasy elements to it. It had a lot of action in it. Todd went through a lot in this novel! It was a really interesting read though because everyone can hear the men’s thoughts so when you read it, there’s the narration and also people’s thoughts. So weird but it really stuck with me! I enjoyed the accents, they were enjoyable. The cliffhangers and travel were good. Looking forward to the next one.

20. The Girl on the Train (2015) – Paula Hawkins.

Rating: 4/10.

I rarely pay attention to Best Seller lists, but this sounded similar to Gone Girl and I really wanted another mad twist story but this was just terrible. The characters were pitiful, they were either drunks or having affairs or just plain dim witted. The story really dragged and I felt myself not really caring about any of the characters. I only gets good towards the very end but to be honest, I was pissed off way before that. Not great, to be honest, I wouldn’t pick it up.

21. Harry Potter & The Chamber of Secrets (1998) – J.K. Rowling.

Rating: 8/10.

Enjoyed the 2nd in the HP series. A really enjoyable read, it was a good detective book. It gave a lot of background that would’ve been otherwise missed. I recommend you pick it up!

Up’s Score

Source: Bev Vincent

The Irish Summer has finally arrived. We’re getting great weather, and by that I mean not rain. But no, it’s actually warm and feels nice outside. And so I decided to discuss a score that really suits this fine weather: the Academy Award winning score to Up (2009) by Michael Giacchino.

This is one of my all time favourite scores because it’s so upbeat and happy and it brings me back to my childhood. Really, this score is the thing of childhoods. So light-hearted and filled with blue skies and sunny days. It also has action tracks on it, but it’s to emotional pieces which are most astounding.

The most beautiful track on the score is undoubtedly “Married Life.” I think we all teared up during the opening sequence. And who could blame us? It’s one of the most poignant and beautiful sequences created, and it manages to be only 4 minutes long. It covers the life of a married couple- from their ups and downs. The music is amazingly scored. It’s filled with emotion. The piece contains muted trumpet (a personal favourite of mine). The blend of trumpet and violin is so dreamlike and relaxing. It’s light-hearted and  makes you feel like floating. The clarinet and the piano reflect the more lonely and poignant moments. The movements throughout flow with ease. A wonderfully contrasting piece that’s one of my favourite songs of all time.

The feeling of drifting is also continued in the piece “It’s Just A House.” Giacchino does a great job with the brass section here. The strings create a light-hearted foundation with the flute contributing, almost like a bird mid-flight. But it’s the brass the injects a feeling of soaring and triumph. You can almost feel the sun in the warmth and richness of the brass.

As aforementioned, Giacchino does well with contrasting sounds. In “Carl Goes Up” he reintroduces his main theme with strings but adds this refined, lonely phrase that’s not quite sad but those have inflections of melancholy in it. After the main theme, the phrase begins with a single violin followed by a harp (I believe) and guitar. It’s amazing how Giacchino portrays so emotion with very little sound/ instrumentation.

Another refined piece is “The Elle Bridge” which has the piano playing the main tune on its own. It’s delicate and poignant. It is accompanied by more instruments as the piece moves forward. We see this also in “Stuff We Did.”

The first half of “The Nickel Tour” kind of reminded me of a great romance or something. You can imagine it playing during a scene where two lovers are making love. Odd finding it here. :L The piano is really beautiful here. It’s followed then by the main theme.

The action scenes are also well scored. The instrumentation reflects the jungle landscape in “Canine Conundrum.” The more brash sounds are of great contrast with the softer, more light-hearted tracks on this score such as “52 Chachiki Pickup.” Here he has the whole brass section at his disposal to contrast with the string section. The percussion are used also.

Escape From Muntz Mountain” is a high velocity/ high octane piece. All sections play a part in creating an epic piece. The brash brass versus the strings accompanied by the booming percussion suits the intensity of the action scenes. The movement from intensity to quieter sounds flows really well.

One of the most impressive pieces is “The Spirit of Adventure.” It’s a really old style jazz song. I think they call it “hot jazz.” But even the inflection of the singer’s voice is specific to the 1920’s/ 1930’s. It’s a real toe-tapper and definitely one to dance to. Of course, more muted trumpet which is always a plus! The lyrics are a bit wacky if you pay close attention to them. A great reflection of going on an adventure.

Closing the score is “Up With End Credits” which brings back the main theme. The trumpet begins but soon moves to the saxaphone which takes of the helm with the solo. The tuba in the background creates an almost fair-like atmosphere. The movements of sound are great: from the delicate piano moments to the full orchestral sounds playing the main theme. The trombones are well utilised to give it that extra oomph. The piece then moves to this kind of tropical atmosphere. It begins with a bit of percussion and flute to set the scene. Its followed by the guitar and more muted trumpet :D Moving onward, the tune moves to a lazy sunday jazz song. The trombone is rich and relaxing followed by a slower version of the main theme by the full orchestra. A great way to end the score.

Interstellar’s Score

Source: Movieposters

One of the most epic movies of 2014, and of our generation, has to be Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar (2014). This monumental movie about space travel has outstanding visual effects and production and sound. But what is truly epic about the film is Hans Zimmer’s impeccable and other worldly score.

His score was nominated for an Academy Award, but lost out to Alexandre Desplat’s The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014). Now, don’t get me wrong, I was delighted for Desplat. He’s one of my favourite composers and I was hoping he’d win for his work on TGBH. His score was extremely intrinsic and geographically specific. That being said, I think a lot of people felt more moved by the Interstellar score as it was more emotionalhumanistic and triumphant. But TGBH was definitely more specific, technical and geographically grounded. I think they’re both momentous scores. Personally I believe that Gravity‘s success in 2013 had a lot to do with why Interstellar didn’t win more than it should have. But I don’t want to go into that.

Emotionally, Interstellar did move me a lot. It was such an excellent score. Really powerful, and literally otherworldly in nature. It was just… hauntingly beautiful. It really did carry the movie. There was a real humanist feel to the score. The triumph and endurance of the soul, it was just brilliant. Interstellar does definitely stand out from a lot of scores. The blend of electronic with the traditional orchestra was outstanding. I think Hans Zimmer should be winning more awards, and this score undoubtedly deserves recognition.

Zimmer creates these expansive soundscapes that extend far and beyond his main melodies, thereby reflecting the vastness of time and space. We get these throughout the score. His main theme is introduced in “Cornfield Chase.” This involves two delicate intermittent notes playing in succession. It comes in stronger in the second half of the track with the introduction of the orchestra and electronic elements. We hear it again in “Day One,” “S.T.A.Y.,” “Where We’re Going” & “First Step”

His string compositions are impressive. He uses it against a solitary background, denoting the aircraft’s position in the endlessness of space. It also provides great movement through the tracks such as “Dust,” “Stay,” “I’m Going Home,” “Detach” & “The Wormhole.”

He also uses these gongs against deep silence which really reverberate throughout the soundscape. You can hear this in “Stay,” which is probably one of the more well known pieces. The orchestra towards the end of this piece is truly ground-breaking. It’s gone into full throttle and the sound blasts as the strings escalate and the brass creates a giant wave of sound. This track also makes use of the organ which creates a massive resounding, heavenly sound. It’s almost overwhelming how much power the organ brings to the score. Zimmer uses it quite efficiently throughout the score.

“A Message From Home” is one of the more delicate pieces. It is hauntingly beautiful with just the piano. It reflects the depth and emptiness of space while providing a representation of the space craft, or a human being, in the vastness of space. The piano is also used quite effectively in the second half of “Coward,” this time against the orchestra. It’s fast paced and adds great urgency to the movie. It then movies into a more electronic feel, intensifying the mood. Zimmer adds pounding notes that really pack a punch. He also includes short, intense notes towards the end which create a climax and culmination of sound.

One of the most epic tracks is “Mountains” which makes use of the organ and also electronic elements. It is cacophonous towards the second half when there are these massive organ sounds playing against the continuous percussion, reflecting the ticking of a clock. It really doesn’t hold back.

“No Time For Caution” includes a ticking percussion which acts like a clock. As the track moves on, the piece becomes more serious with the introduction of more instruments. The orchestra increases the intensity while the strings and brass later repeat the motif of the film again in an epic fashion, indicating a moment of climax and dramatic intensity. The organ flourishes at the end in a gargantuan style.

Same Sex Marriage In Ireland

Source: Headstuff

As I’m sure you all know already, the referendum for same sex marriage in Ireland passed on Saturday 23rd of May 2015. It was such a momentous occasion and a great feeling of elation spread through the country.

I was so happy, not only for myself but for the thousands of LGBT individuals throughout the country (and world), as well as their friends and families. It was such a long and difficult campaign, and emotions were high throughout. But I’m so proud of the result and I’m glad that I was alive to see and be part of an historic occasion. It really felt like we changed history, and I’m so proud to be Irish because of what we as a nation accomplished. Not only do we become one of the countries that allows same sex marriage, but we are the first country to establish same sex marriage by popular vote!

I was following the results throughout the day as each constituency gave their results. The Yes side won with a whopping 1,201,607 votes (62.07%). All but 1 constituency (of 43) voted in favour of same sex marriage. That constituency was Roscommon-South Leitrim which is a rural area. There was some negativity about them being the only one not to vote in favour of it but in fairness it was only by a 3% margin so there was still great support for it in that area.

When I watched the results coming in I was so teary eyed because it was so great to see people standing up for equality and human rights. The scenes in Dublin were just amazing to see. I went out that night with some of my friends to celebrate and it was a great feeling to just enjoy the momentous event. A brilliant occasion to witness and be part of.

1st Wolf Awards

This is the 1st Wolf Awards. These awards recognise the best books I read in 2014. You can see the list here. This year there are 18 categories. So here we go!

Source: Smithsonian


Best Novel:

  • Death on the Nile (1937) – Agatha Christie.
  • Ghostwritten (1999) – David Mitchell.
  • The Great Gatsby (1925) – F. Scott Fitzgerald.
  • More Than This (2013) – Patrick Ness.
  • Proxy (2013) – Alex London.
  • The Scorch Trials (2010) – James Dashner.
  • The Tracey Fragments (1998) – Maureen Medved.

Winner: The Great Gatsby (1925) – F. Scott Fitzgerald.


Best Drama Novel:

  • The Book Thief (2005) – Mark Zusak.
  • Death on the Nile (1937) – Agatha Christie.
  • Ghostwritten (1999) – David Mitchell.
  • The Great Gatsby (1925) – F. Scott Fitzgerald.
  • The Tracey Fragments (1998) – Maureen Medved.

Winner: The Great Gatsby (1925) – F. Scott Fitzgerald.


Best Action Novel:

  • The Culling (2013) – Steven dos Santos.
  • The Death Cure (2011) – James Dashner.
  • More Than This (2013) – Patrick Ness. 
  • Proxy (2013) – Alex London.
  • The Scorch Trials (2010) – James Dashner.

Winner: The Scorch Trials (2010) – James Dashner.


Best Contemporary Novel:

  • Bridget Jones: Mad About The Boy (2013) – Helen Fielding.
  • Ghostwritten (1999) – David Mitchell.
  • The Tracey Fragments (1998) – Maureen Medved.

Winner: Ghostwritten (1999) – David Mitchell.


Best Fantasy Novel:

  • Clockwork Prince (2011) – Cassandra Clare.
  • Clockwork Princess (2013) – Cassandra Clare.
  • Ghostwritten (1999) – David Mitchell.
  • The Tales of Beedle The Bard (2008) – J.K. Rowling.
  • The Vampyre (1819) – John Polidori.

Winner: Ghostwritten (1999) – David Mitchell.


Best Science Fiction Novel:

  • The Culling (2013) – Steven dos Santos.
  • The Death Cure (2011) – James Dashner.
  • More Than This (2013) – Patrick Ness.
  • Proxy (2013) – Alex London.
  • The Scorch Trials (2010) – James Dashner.

Winner: More Than This (2013) – Patrick Ness.


Best Dystopian Novel: 

  • The Death Cure (2011) – James Dashner.
  • The Long Walk (1979) – Richard Bachman (Aka Stephen King).
  • More Than This (2013) – Patrick Ness.
  • Proxy (2013) – Alex London.
  • The Scorch Trials (2010) – James Dashner.

Winner: The Scorch Trials (2010) – James Dashner.


Best Classic Novel:

  • Bertram; or The Castle of St. Aldobrand (1816) – Charles Maturin.
  • Castle Rackrent (1800) – Maria Edgeworth.
  • Death on the Nile (1937) – Agatha Christie.
  • The Great Gatsby (1925) – F. Scott Fitzgerald.
  • The Vampyre (1819) – John Polidori.

Winner: The Great Gatsby (1925) – F. Scott Fitzgerald.


Best Period Drama Novel:

  • The Book Thief (2005) – Mark Zusak.
  • The City and the Pillar (1948) – Gore Vidal.
  • Clockwork Prince (2011) – Cassandra Clare.
  • Death on the Nile (1937) – Agatha Christie.
  • The Great Gatsby (1925) – F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Winner: The Great Gatsby (1925) – F. Scott Fitzgerald.


Best Crime/ Detective Novel:

  • Death on the Nile (1937) – Agatha Christie.
  • Ghostwritten (1999) – David Mitchell.
  • The Vampyre (1819) – John Polidori.

Winner: Death on the Nile (1937) – Agatha Christie.


Best LGBT Novel:

  • Bridget Jones: Mad About The Boy (2013) – Helen Fielding.
  • The City and the Pillar (1948) – Gore Vidal.
  • The Culling (2013) – Steven dos Santos.
  • More Than This (2013) – Patrick Ness.
  • Proxy (2013) – Alex London.

Winner: More Than This (2013) – Patrick Ness.


Best Romance Novel:

  • Bridget Jones: Mad About The Boy (2013) – Helen Fielding.
  • The City and the Pillar (1948) – Gore Vidal.
  • Clockwork Prince (2011) – Cassandra Clare.
  • The Great Gatsby (1925) – F. Scott Fitzgerald.
  • More Than This (2013) – Patrick Ness.

Winner: The Great Gatsby (1925) – F. Scott Fitzgerald.


Best Young Adult Novel:

  • The Death Cure (2011) – James Dashner.
  • More Than This (2013) – Patrick Ness.
  • Proxy (2013) – Alex London.
  • The Scorch Trials (2010) – James Dashner.
  • The Tracey Fragments (1998) – Maureen Medved.

Winner: The Tracey Fragments (1998) – Maureen Medved.


Best Children’s Novel:

  • Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them (2001) – J.K. Rowling.
  • Quidditch Through the Ages (2001) – J.K. Rowling.
  • The Tales of Beedle The Bard (2008) – J.K. Rowling.

Winner: The Tales of Beedle The Bard (2008) – J.K. Rowling.


Best Leading Male Character:

  • Jay Gatsby – The Great Gatsby (1925) – F. Scott Fitzgerald.
  • Seth – More Than This (2013) – Patrick Ness.
  • Syd – Proxy (2013) – Alex London.
  • Thomas – The Scorch Trials (2010) – James Dashner.
  • Will Herondale – Clockwork Prince (2011) – Cassandra Clare.

Winner: Syd – Proxy (2013) – Alex London.


Best Leading Female Character: 

  • Bridget Jones – Bridget Jones: Mad About The Boy (2013) – Helen Fielding.
  • Daisy Buchanan – The Great Gatsby (1925) – F. Scott Fitzgerald.
  • Liesel Meminger – The Book Thief (2005) – Mark Zusak.
  • Tracey Berkowitz – The Tracey Fragments (1998) – Maureen Medved.
  • Unnamed Old Woman from “Holy Mountain” – Ghostwritten (1999) – David Mitchell.

Winner: Tracey Berkowitz – The Tracey Fragments (1998) – Maureen Medved.


Best Supporting Male Character:

  • Knox – Proxy (2013) – Alex London.
  • Max Vandenburg – The Book Thief (2005) – Mark Zusak.
  • Newt – The Scorch Trials (2010) – James Dashner.
  • Noncorpum from “Mongolia” – Ghostwritten (1999) – David Mitchell.
  • Tomasz – More Than This (2013) – Patrick Ness.

Winner: Noncorpum from “Mongolia” – Ghostwritten (1999) – David Mitchell.


Best Supporting Female Character:

  • Jordan Baker – The Great Gatsby (1925) – F. Scott Fitzgerald.
  • Marie Van Schuyler – Death on the Nile (1937) – Agatha Christie.
  • Regine – More Than This (2013) – Patrick Ness.
  • Rosa Hubermann – The Book Thief (2005) – Mark Zusak.
  • Salome Otterbourne – Death on the Nile (1937) – Agatha Christie.

Winner: Marie Van Schuyler – Death on the Nile (1937) – Agatha Christie.


Books with multiple nominations:

10:

  • More Than This (2013) – Patrick Ness.

8:

  • The Great Gatsby (1925) – F. Scott Fitzgerald.
  • Proxy (2013) – Alex London.

7:

  • Death on the Nile (1937) – Agatha Christie.
  • Ghostwritten (1999) – David Mitchell.
  • The Scorch Trials (2010) – James Dashner.

5:

  • The Book Thief (2005) – Mark Zusak.
  • The Tracey Fragments (1998) – Maureen Medved.

4:

  • Bridget Jones: Mad About The Boy (2013) – Helen Fielding.
  • Clockwork Prince (2011) – Cassandra Clare.
  • The Death Cure (2011) – James Dashner.

3:

  • The City and the Pillar (1948) – Gore Vidal.
  • The Culling (2013) – Steven dos Santos.
  • The Vampyre (1819) – John Polidori.

2:

  • The Tales of Beedle The Bard (2008) – J.K. Rowling.

Books with multiple wins:

5:

  • The Great Gatsby (1925) – F. Scott Fitzgerald.

3:

  • Ghostwritten (1999) – David Mitchell.

2:

  • Death on the Nile (1937) – Agatha Christie.
  • More Than This (2013) – Patrick Ness.
  • The Scorch Trials (2010) – James Dashner.
  • The Tracey Fragments (1998) – Maureen Medved.

The Bone Clocks Review

Author: David Mitchell.

Published: September 2, 2014.

Rating: 9/10.


I feel like this review is a long time coming. I started this book in early January and didn’t finish it until early May. I wasn’t reading it for a solid five months, I had books to read for university so unfortunately I didn’t get around to finishing it until this month. Anyway, I digress! If anyone of you know me, you’ll know David Mitchell is my favourite writer. This was my 3rd David Mitchell novel and I loved it. I don’t want to overly compare it to his other novels (which is hard since all his novels are connected) but Cloud Atlas (2004) is still my favourite, but this was pretty mind blowing all the same.

The novel has 6 narratives which take place is different time periods, from 1984 to 2043. There are many different plots with a multitude of characters but at the centre of it all is Holly Sykes. It’s basically the story of Holly Sykes and the people who are somehow connected to her. It’s thoroughly intrinsic and in places mind blowing. Some sections I enjoyed more than others. For the purpose of this review, I’m going to give a brief review of each narrative. And there **WILL BE SPOILERS. **

A Hot Spell – 8/10

The first narrative takes place in 1984 in Gravesend, England. Holly is only a teenager and is basically trying to be independent. She’s stubborn which is quite humorous. I really enjoyed the humour of this narrative. The accents of Irish/ English were good. I really liked Gwyns back story of going from place to place. Initially this section was a bit confusing in places. I had read of non-corpums before in Mitchell’s novels. They’re basically souls that travel from body to body, usually when that body has died. In this book they’re called Anchorites (bad) and Atemporals (good). Looking back, the section makes a lot of sense with her brother and the encounters with the Anchorites and Atemporlas , but it doesn’t click together until later on. It was set up well by Mitchell. Jacko’s (Holly’s brother) disappearance has repercussions throughout the rest of the novel. Overall, a good section.

 Myrrh Is Mine, Its Bitter Perfume – 10/10

The second narrative takes place in 1991 in Switzerland & London, England. Our narrator her is Hugo Lamb who is a university student. Well-to-do, upper-middle class with all the privileges. This section was also really humorous. Hugo is pretty manipulative. I liked how he basically performed an identity and was really sleazy and manipulative. He fooled his friend, Penhaligon, into betting a massive amount which he lost and then convinces Penhaligon to sell his car in order to repay the debt. I think Penhaligon commits suicide later on but I can’t remember. It sounds really cruel but I loved how evil and manipulative he was (obviously I’d hate him in real life). I’m just really loving identity performance at the moment e.g. Gone Girl (2014). Hugo just acts really outgoing and posh but has a secret identity of corrupt behaviour. He has a secret bank account with a lot of money in it.

Holly Sykes then turns up when the Hugo and a group of his uni friends go skiing in Switzerland. Hugo ends up sleazing his way into her bed. The section then turns rather sci-fi/ thriller in nature. Hugo Lamb is then recruited to the Anchorites. That bit was a bit confusing but I just loved the whole section. The manipulation, negotiations, tactics, university lifestyle and networking were brilliant. One of my favourite sections of the book.

The Wedding Bash – 10/10

This was my favourite section of the book. It takes place in 2004. It switches between Baghdad, Iraq and Brighton, England. The narrator is Ed Brubeck, who lived quite close to Holly when she lived in Gravesend. Ed and Holly are now married with a daughter, Aoife. The story switches between the wedding in Brighton and Ed’s time in Iraq. He works as a war journalist which I really enjoyed reading about. His job literally means that he has to put his life on the line. I thought the narrative gave a great insight into what places of conflict are actually like and also the job of a war journalist. Holly obviously wishes that he would retire from the job as it posits a threat to his life. The parts that take place in Brighton are about arguments between the two regarding Ed’s desire to work in places of conflict.

I loved the metaphysical stuff ad how decisions can have massive consequences. For example, Ed’s life is saved twice. In one instance, he bends down to pet a cat just as an explosion shatters a window which would have killed him. Looking back at my notes, I realised that Mitchell had hinted (blatantly told us) of the atemporal in Jacko & I noted that I thought there may have been a soul in Holly which turned out to be right: Esther Little. The puzzle towards the end to try and find Aoife was amazing. Esther-in-Holly (I believe) gave the message of “ten fifteen” which turned out to be the room that Aoife was hiding it. The hunt to find her was so intrinsic. Loved it, and the whole section.

Crispin Hershey’s Lonely Planet – 9/10

This takes place in 2015. The narrator is Crispin Hershey, a down-on-his-luck writer. It’s basically about him going on book tours and trying to promote his books, although his sales aren’t doing great. Holly turns up, who happens to be doing really well selling her own book about her experiences with Jacko’s disappearance. There isn’t a massive amount of plot in this section and to be honest, I forget really what it was about.

Crispin tries to get revenge on Richard Cheesman who gave him a bad review. Cheesman ends up getting sent to jail for drug possession in Mexico or South America I think I can’t remember. The sentence turns out to be longer than Crispin had anticipated so he regrets his actions. Cheesman does come back for revenge but its Soleil Moore who ends up killing Crispin. When I first read it, I didn’t get it but now I understand that she was trying to get him to tell the world about the Anchorites. The character interactions and crime stuff were good. Overall, great section.

An Horologist’s Labyrinth – 10/10

This is the section where things start getting weird. It’s the climax of the novel. Mitchell really brings it home here about the war between the Anchorites and Atemporals. The story primarily takes place in 2025 and switches between a lot of places: Norway, Australia, New York and Russia. At first, I thought this part had a lot of jargon in it and was confusing to read, but suddenly everything clicked together and the whole novel was brought together. It explains the history of the Atemporals and their mission to wipe out the evil Anchorites.

I really enjoyed the reflections of the past and the back stories like in Australia and Russia. The history of humanity and civilisations was brilliant, especially when talking about the wandering souls of the Atemporals who are reborn in new bodies. I liked how it turned into a crime story/ fantasy story with the war culmination involving Holly. The retrospective nods back to Holly’s time in Gravesend, Esther Little hidden in Holly, Xi Lo being inside Jacko, Hugo Lamb being recruited and Marinus’ past was so intrinsic and really tied together.

The two missions were so epic. The retrieval of Esther reminded me of Inception (2010) because they had to delve deep into Holly’s memories in order to find where Esther was hidden, and there was even a message in Holly’s memory from 1984 that unlocks Esther after 41 years. That was just so mind blowing. I love how it all just transmits throughout time, the messages, the prompts, the hints. It’s just so massive in its ambition and patience, and also thoroughly metaphysical in nature.

Funnily enough, the second mission to defeat the Anchorites and also try to save Jacko/Xi Lo reminded me of Interstellar (2014), another of Christopher Nolan’s movies. Holly wanted one last shot to try and get her brother back fro this alternate dimension after 41 years. After the fight between the two sides, Holly escapes with Marinus and has to make her way through a labyrinth to get back to Earth. The labyrinth is an exact replica of a labyrinth that Jacko/ Xi Lo gave her back in 1984. When he got here, his memory created a physical representation of the maze as if he knew she would one day travel here. She knows the exact way to get out and makes it back to earth. That was so mind blowing and immense how Mitchell was able to construct all these narratives to fit in so perfectly with one another. It really just blew me away.

Sheep’s Head – 8/10

The final narrative takes place in 2043 in County Cork, Ireland. The setting is a post-apocalyptic earth were energy resources are scarce, people have very little electricity, technology doesn’t function well (if at all), cities have flooded, disease is rife. So its like the the world has gone back to feudal times and people have to barter at the market. China is apparently a superpower in the world that controls trade, energy, power, etc. Holly is now an old woman and she lives with her granddaughter, Lorelai, and her adopted grandson, Rafiq, who washed up on the shore after he was travelling on a refuge ship from Morocco.

It’s much more minimalist and slowed down after the last section. I really enjoyed the Irishness that Mitchell brings through in this section. It doesn’t have a major plot, its more about how humanity has ruined the planet and how people exist after everything is wrecked. Towards the end, these militia men come in to steal their solar panels and resources and a bit of a fight ensues. At the end, Marinus returns to save Lorelai and Rafiq and bring them to Iceland where it is safe. There isn’t enough room for Holly or Mo, so they stay in Cork. The ending is sad. The social commentary is good and there’s a real humanist interaction between characters.


Overall, I loved this book. Loved how everything tied together. I really enjoy stories that take place in different eras so this was a treat! So well written and developed, definitely worth the read!

My Wisdom Tooth

A few months ago I was complaining about how my wisdom tooth was causing me pain. Well after a few days the pain died down so I just said I’d leave it. I mean I did go to my dentist to get X-rays, and basically my wisdom teeth are growing horizontally to my other teeth and their pushing against them. It looks so sore (and worse than the picture above! :L ) I’m on a long waiting list to get it pulled out in the University Hospital Limerick (that way I get if for free, or at least a VERY reduced price).

Anyway, so it’s flaring up again and the pain… It’s not even my gum, it’s my jaw. I can’t open it wide. I mean I can open it enough to eat, drink and clean my teeth, etc. But if I want to yawn, there’s no way I can stretch my mouth because it’s way too sore. Hopefully it either fades or I can get it pulled out in the hospital. I just have to deal with it for the moment! :P