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Giveaway: The Echoes of Love by Hannah Fielding

The Echoes of Love - Hannah Fielding - header

The big news in publishing circles is that Hannah Fielding’s Venetian romance Echoes of Love has competed with authors from over 33 countries to win the coveted Gold medal in the Romance category at the 18th Independent Publisher Book Awards In New York.

Echoes of Love is the story of Venetia Aston-Montague who has escaped to Venice to recover from a broken heart while working in her godmother’s architectural firm. For the past ten years Venetia has refused to let herself fall in love, only to be caught off guard during carnival when she is rescued from armed thieves by a charming Italian, Paolo Barone. Drawn to the powerfully attractive Paolo, and despite warnings of his ladies-man reputation, Venetia can’t help being caught up in a passionate affair.

Venice

The Echoes of Love - Hannah FieldingWhen she finds herself assigned to a project to refurbish his magnificent home deep in the Tuscan countryside, Venetia not only faces a beautiful young rival but dark reminders of her past, determined to come between them. Can Venetia trust that love will triumph, even over her own demons? Or will a carefully guarded, devastating secret tear them apart forever?

Echoes of Love is an epic love story and this year’s great summer read. The good news is that I have a beautiful hard-cover copy to give away and I’m willing to ship it worldwide!

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Video: Think Again by Richard Cheese & Lounge Against The Machine

Think Again

Well alright then, the prize for the most seriously bonkers video of the week goes to this advert for the World Hepatitis Day campaign on Monday, 28 July 2014. Weird as it might be, it’s gone viral and amassed an incredible quarter of a million views on YouTube in just one week.

Normally this isn’t the type of thing I’d feature on this blog but I found that couldn’t stop watching it once I’d clicked on it and then, to my utter horror, I began tapping my toe along to the jingle. Watch it – you’ll see what I mean.

Seriously though, the advert is for a good cause and I thought I’d give the campaign some time. Hepatitis is one of the most aggressively infectious diseases on earth and is the 8th leading cause of death worldwide. I’m a first aider and I have to admit that we are more wary of exposure to hepatitis than anything else because just one needle prick and you have it.

The video is quite interesting from a media perspective too. The video is produced by Red Pill and features Lejo the world’s most amazing hand puppeteer. I had to remind myself more than once that those are hands! The confoundingly catchy tune is “Think Again” by Richard Cheese and Lounge Against the Machine. I reckon I’m going to have to listen to a good dose of something loud and obnoxious to get it out of my head.

So your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to find me a more bizarre video than this. The only condition is that it must be brand new and therefore, not previously featured on the blog!

Guardians of the Galaxy: spoiler-free review

Guardians of the Galaxy poster

Last night I had the absolute pleasure of attending the official FDA Multimedia Screening of Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy at the Odeon in Leicester Square. I can tell you now that if you’re a fan of the Marvel franchise you are not going to disappointed with this film. Guardians of the Galaxy is the penultimate film in phase 2 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe which has also included Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World and Captain America: The Winter Soldier and will conclude with Avengers: The Age of Ultron in May 2015. The film will be released at the end of next week in the States and the United Kingdom so this will be a spoiler-free review.

Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) is a Ravager who is known as Star-Lord, although apparently only to himself. He is a fortune hunter of sorts who discovers a mysterious orb that just happens to be coveted by the world-destroying maniac Ronan (Lee Pace). Having barely escaped the clutches of Ronan’s Kree hunters, Quill is cornered by the fearsome assassin Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and bounty hunters Rocket and Groot on the planet Xandar.  It seems his problems have only just begun though because soon Quill discovers the true power of the orb and the devastating consequences if it falls into Ronan’s hands.

Chris Pratt as Star-Lord

The first thing you will notice about Guardians of the Galaxy is the spectacular special effects and CGI. In the past I have been quite vocal about my dislike of 3D but this film has probably changed my view on that for good. Within the first minutes my breath was taken away by Chris Pratt’s Star-Lord costume and there was that rather embarrassing moment when I ducked when he kicked a dinosaur/squirrel off-screen. Yes, really. I had to hide my face from the person sitting next to me for the rest of the film.

The set design was pretty impressive too. It was reported that 350,000lbs of steel went into the set that made the giant intergalactic prison Kyln and it was certainly a worthwhile use of resources. I also liked the planet of Xandar which looked like a hybrid of London, with its wibbly wobbly bridge and winding river, and California.

Chris Pratt Peter Quill Guardians of the Galaxy

There were a lot of surprises in the film. Chris Pratt surprised me a lot. I thought that he made a very unlikely superhero and that he’d bring too much slapstick to the role. In true Marvel style, the film was hilarious which is a definite breath of fresh air when compared to the doom and gloom of the DC Comics films. I’m glad to say that I was wrong about him though; Peter Quill is now my favourite hero after Hawkeye and Thor.  Jeremy Renner will always be my favourite anything.

Karen Gillan is Nebula

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the film was Karen Gillan in her role as Nebula, the adopted daughter of Thanos and evil side-kick of Ronan. Gillan is perhaps best known as Amy Pond in Doctor Who and I am a massive fan of hers so I don’t mean it lightly when I say that Gillan in completely unrecognisable in this role in both character and appearance.  She is not the only one too, I would never have recognised Lee Pace who plays Ronan.

The hottest character in the film was definitely Korath (played by Djimon Hounsou). I love the story (reported in ScreenCrave) Hounsou tells of how his son complained he could never light-skinned enough to play Spider-Man and now his dad is playing one kick-ass intergalactic hunter.

He’s not my favourite character though. That title would go to the awesome Groot. I’m afraid that I cannot tell you anything about Vin Diesel’s turn as the tree-like humanoid that wouldn’t amount to a spoiler but suffice to say, I want a dancing Groot plant pot. 

My favourite moment in the film was undoubtedly when the crew arrive in Knowhere, located in the severed head of a celestial being, with David Bowie’s “Moonage Daydream” playing in the background. I love that song so much I once had a t-shirt made featuring the opening lines and so this was a pretty special moment.

In fact, the whole soundtrack is pretty brilliant. I did not think an obscure 1970s and 1980s mix-tape could work but it really does and I’ll be one of the first to get the soundtrack when it’s released. In addition to the David Bowie classic, it features 10cc’s “I’m Not In Love” and “Hooked on a Feeling” by Blue Swede.

Marvel's Guardians Of The Galaxy

The Collector/Tanaleer Tivan (Benicio Del Toro)

Ph: Film Frame

©Marvel 2014

Unfortunately, not all was perfect with the film and I do have to complain. There was definitely not enough screen time dedicated to Benicio Del Toro’s kitsch character The Collector. He should definitely have featured more prominently in the film.

It should come as no surprise that I absolutely recommend Guardians of the Galaxy and give it a five-star review. Do yourself a favour and see this one in 3D.

5 Star Rating: Superb

Guardians of the Galaxy will be released in the UK on 31 July 2014 and in the USA on 1 August 2014. You can pre-order the double-CD soundtrack and score from Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk (affiliate links).

Claustrophobic Cinema

Pioneer featuring Wes Bentley

Throughout the course of cinema, there have been many films which tack into a common fear many cinemagoers share; the fear of confined spaces. To celebrate the release of Pioneer on Blu-ray and DVD on 4th August 2014 from Arrow Films, we count down the ten best examples of claustrophobic cinema.

12 Angry Men (1957)
The much-loved 12 Angry Men is solely set in a courtroom deliberation room where an all-male jury debates the fate of a teenager being tried for murder. Based on Reginald Rose’s Teleplay of the same name, Sidney Lumet’s classic explores many techniques of consensus-building amongst a group of men with differing personalities all to the backdrop of a sweltering New York summer’s day.

Das Boot (1981)
Set during World War II, we find ourselves as an audience thrust deep underwater within the confines of a German submarine. Providing an in-depth view into the inner workings of Nazi sailors and officers, Wolfgang Petersen depicts both the excitement of battle and the mundane tedium of daily life so well that every emotion felt throughout the film’s lengthy running time is heightened to varying degrees.

Das Boot

Speed (1994)
Jan de Bont’s action masterpiece is primarily set on a bus that’s been rigged to explode (by Dennis Hopper’s terrorist) if it falls below 50 miles per hour. What ensues is a thrilling ride in which the bus must sustain its speed with Sandra Bullock’s passenger behind the wheel, as Keanu Reeves’ officer Jack Traven attempts to disarm the bus. Opening and closing with similarly claustrophobic scenes (on a lift and train, respectively), the film’s unusual setting of mid-afternoon only adds to the unease of how events will transpire.

Cube (1997)
This French mind-bender is set in a mysterious, cube-shaped structure fit with a group of strangers. These characters have no choice but to navigate deadly traps as they attempt to make their exits, instead forcing themselves to use their intelligence to survive - something easier said than done whilst trapped inside a giant cube.

Panic Room (2002)
The title of David Fincher’s thriller alludes to a room within a New York City brownstone house where Jodie Foster and daughter Kristen Stewart find themselves holed-up in during a home invasion. Protected by concrete and steel on all sides and fit with an extensive security system with multiple surveillance cameras, the characters find themselves stuck inside for the majority of the film - and despite being free to leave, the predicament of the robbers laying in wait outside only makes matters even more claustrophobic.

Natalie Mendoza in The Descent

The Descent
(2005)
Neil Marshall’s British horror The Descent follows a group of women who spelunk their way into an unmapped Appalachian cave system which throws all kinds of enclosed spaces and suffocating tension the way of the audience. Embracing the confined area, Marshall adapts camera technique around the film’s premise in which the women’s lives are threatened by flesh-eating humanoids.

Moon (2009)
Set on a mining bass on the moon, Duncan Jones’ sci-fi cult follows Sam Rockwell (in a career best performance) as Sam Bell, a Lunar Industries astronaut at the tail-end of a three-year work contract as the sole resident at a mining bass on the moon. Suffering hallucinations, Bell is unnerved when he discovers his very own doppelganger - real or a figment of his lonely imagination, he does not know.

Exam (2009)
A British psychological thriller, Exam features eight characters who are candidates for an employment assessment exam. Led into a room, each seated at a desk which sits one sheet of paper, an invigilator (Colin Salmon) explains how they have 80 minutes to complete the exam which consists of merely one question. Armed with certain rules, they are then left to their own devices to work out what that question is, the camera never once leaving the room in the process.

Ryan Reynolds in Buried

Buried (2010)
A hugely high-concept thriller in which Ryan Reynolds is stuck in a coffin for the entire film, Buried is heavily reliant on the actors and writing team to create something that lives up to expectation. Reynolds plays Paul Conroy, an Iraq-based American truck driver who wakes up to find himself buried in a coffin with several items, including a mobile phone. Films really don’t come more claustrophobic than Rodrigo Cortés’ effort.

Pioneer posterPioneer (2014)
The Norwegian thriller Pioneer follows Petter, a professional offshore diver during the 70s, tasked with laying the first petroleum pipe in the North Sea. Following a tragic accident during a test dive, he discovers that his superiors are attempting to put a smokescreen on the true events and that his life is at stake. This well-received conspiracy embraces the claustrophobic nature of the setting to deliver something altogether more thrilling.

 

Pioneer is released on DVD and Blu-ray on 4th August 2014 from Arrow Films

The Fabulous Andrew Scott: A Career Retrospective

Andrew Scott in Stag

Andrew Scott’s career has already been an illustrious one- after leaving Trinity College to join Dublin's famous Abbey Theatre, he garnered rave reviews for various lead roles, and won an Independent Spirit Award at the tender age of twenty one. While many will recognise him as the mesmerising, maniacal Moriarty in the BBC series Sherlock, Scott was well on his way to brilliance before his turn as the criminal mastermind.

With The Stag released on digital platforms from the 7th July and on Blu-ray and DVD from the 21st July courtesy of Arrow Films, we recount the most memorable Andrew Scott performances to date...

The Stag (2013)

This laugh-out-loud comedy enabled Scott to showcase a softer side, playing the adorable, charming best man to Hugh O’Conor’s groom. Displaying a natural aptitude for comedy, Scott was roundly praised for his performance, and the film displayed far more depth and heart than the average ‘bachelor weekend’ film.

The Stag featuring Andrew Scott

Korea (1995)

Scott made his acting debut at 17 in this hugely underrated film, playing a young man struggling with issues of family, identity and politics in 1950’s rural Ireland. Directed by Cathal Black and based on a short story by John McGahern, it won the Asta Nielsen Best Film Award at the Copenhagen Film Festival and was runner-up for the Audience Prize at the Seattle Film Festival.

Nora (2000)

This biographical drama recounts the relationship between writer James Joyce (Ewan McGregor) and his wife Nora Barnacle (Susan Lynch).The two leads are ably supported by Scott, who plays Michael Bodkin, the real-life inspiration for the character Michael Furey in James Joyce's short story The Dead.

Lennon Naked (2010)

Playing one of the most famous musicians of all-time is no easy task, but Scott rose to the challenge admirably, playing Paul McCartney in this biopic of John Lennon (Christopher Ecclestone), recounting the tumultuous period of time leading up to the eventual end of The Beatles.

Chasing Cotards (2010)

Scott returned to the short film medium in this critically acclaimed drama, focusing on artist Hart Elliot-Hinwood (Scott) and the difficulties he faces as he mourns his late wife. The silent film boasted a haunting score and Scott’s performance as a grief-stricken man unable to cope with his loss proved yet another example of his exceptional talent.

BBC Sherlock Andrew Scott is Jim Moriarty

Sherlock (2010-2013)

The role that made Scott an overnight star and, by his own admission, radically changed his career. As the arch-nemesis of Sherlock Holmes (Benedict Cumberbatch), Scott’s first appearance in the series lasted just ten minutes- but he quickly won legions of fans for his nuanced, brilliant portrayal of a criminal mastermind. Scott won a TV BAFTA for Best Supporting Actor, beating several acting stalwarts, including his co-star Martin Freeman.

Legacy (2013)

This BBC2 film was adapted from Alan Judd’s spy novel, and featured a stellar cast including Scott, Romola Garai and Simon Russell Beale. Set in London at the height of the Cold War, the film focuses on a young man (Charlie Cox) who stumbles upon a disturbing revelation about his father's complex past. Scott, playing Soviet diplomat Viktor Koslov, won particular praise for his virtually flawless Russian accent.

Locke (2013)

This critically acclaimed drama focuses on one night in the life of Ivan Locke (Tom Hardy). The film follows him on a car journey after he receives a phone call that sets in motion events that threaten his idyllic life. Supporting cast members are only featured via phone calls to him, and Andrew Scott plays Locke’s assistant, who must take the reins in his absence; despite the lack of a physical presence, Scott provides another brilliant, nuanced performance.

Jimmy’s Hall (2014)

Ken Loach’s drama premiered at Cannes this year, and was widely praised by critics as one of the best films of the festival. It focuses on political activist Jimmy Galton, who returns to Ireland and promptly re-opens the local dance hall, where young people can meet and socialise, as well as dance- prompting ire from the Catholic Church. Scott turns in yet another great performance as Father Seamus, the voice of reason against the prejudices of other members of the clergy.

Pride (2014)

This drama, directed by Matthew Warchus, premiered at Cannes, won the Queer Palm award and features yet another standout performance from Scott. Based on a true story, the film follows a group of LGBT activists who raise money to support those affected by the UK miners' strike. The Union’s reluctance to accept the group's support means the activists decide to take their donations in person to a small mining village in Wales — resulting in an unlikely, ultimately successful alliance.

The Stag is available on digital platforms from July 7th, 2014, and Blu-ray and DVD from July 21st, 2014

loudQUIETloud: A Film About the Pixies (2006)

loudQUIETloud cover

When a band you loves breaks up, it can be pretty painful. There is a moment of something mimicking actual grief when you slowly come to realise that you'll never hear new material from them again, that you’ll never attend another one of their concerts. I felt that dull, heavy moment of shock when I found out the Pixies had broken up. I think my pain was made all the more real because the closest I'd ever come to seeing them live was the bootleg cassette I bought of their Glastonbury 1988 performance.

Fast forward to more than a decade later. I will never forget that Sunday morning in early 2004. My friend Mike emailed to let me know the Pixies were back together and were playing in London that summer. Great! Just one small problem... I lived in South Africa. I stormed through to our living room to share the news with my husband and threw away an expletive-ridden remark about how next thing we knew, Cranes would announce a concert the same week.

Now if Pixies getting back together was a long shot, then the prospect of obscure dream pop band Cranes, known for their rare London live performances, scheduling a gig in London in that week was even more so. Apart from Pixies, Cranes was my favourite band of all time and I'd never even come close to seeing them live.

I returned to my computer and the next email I received was from Cranes Fan Forum announcing a gig in London in exactly the same week as the Pixies gig. It felt at that moment like my heart had taken a backwards somersault and belly-flopped. I felt winded. My husband took one look at my face and said, "stuff it, I'm buying you a plane ticket".

Alison Shaw Cranes 2004

So that was my story of how I came to see two of my favourite bands of all time in concert in the same week. They weren't my first concerts - I'd spent 9 months doing the festival circuit in England in 1995 and we did (very) occasionally get decent bands in South Africa. It also wasn't to be the only time I saw both bands in concert, after moving to London (partially because of my love of music) I went on to see Pixies again and Cranes another two times. But that week was momentous.

Pixies Brixton Academy 08.10.2009

But if it was huge for the fans, consider for a moment how massive it must have been for the members of Pixies: Charles Thompson aka Frank Black, Kim Deal, Joey Santiago and Dave Lovering.

Kim Deal - loudQUIETloud

loudQUIETloud: A Film About the Pixies (2006) is a documentary about the crazy, heady days when Pixies first got back together. The film begins with those first tentative phone calls and the disastrous first rehearsal where Kim Deal had to practically rewrite the tracks to remember how to play them again. The shows for the Sell Out Tour famously sold out within minutes and the tour was a great success.

Joey Santiago - loudQUIETloud

But it wasn't exactly a perfect reunion. A rigorous touring schedule put the band under a lot of stress as they struggled to maintain connections with their everyday lives. Homesick and exhausted, it's no surprise that old tensions arose. The turning point seemed to be when grief-stricken Lovering descended into a Valium addiction while Kim tried to maintain her sobriety from drink and drugs.

David Lovering - loudQUIETloud

loudQUIETloud is about that first year, before years and years of live success and sell out shows, before Kim Deal left the band and before Pixies began recording new music again. It's a fabulous snapshot into where the band was and I think it gives great insight into where they will go. With the departure from the band of Kim’s replacement Kim Shattuck, and both Dave Lovering and Frank Black saying that the door is always open for Kim Deal to return, I think loudQUIETloud gives an idea of why Kim probably will return but why it probably won’t be easy.  

Frank Black - loudQUIETloud

Seeing loudQUIETloud: A Film About the Pixies (2006) gave me a newfound respect for the Pixies, their music and for the human beings behind the larger than life superstars. One thing I can’t agree with is that it was Nirvana that made Pixies go supernova – I only listened to Nirvana in the first place because they reminded me of Pixies.

loudQUIETloud: A Film About the Pixies (2006) is an essential addition to any fan collection and you can purchase it on Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com.

You can also purchase Brave New Girl by Louisa Luna (the book that features in the documentary) at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com.

5 Stars

Book Review: 'Blood Bound' by Rachel Vincent

Blood Bound UK cover banner

It's been thirty years since the world found out about the Skilled, those people with abilities that set them apart from the rest of the population. Some are Trackers with a preternatural ability to track anyone by name or on a drop of blood, others can mortally bind a contract, detect lies or teleport between shadows.

Of course, governments around the world refuse to acknowledge the existence of the Skilled and their abilities and what they won't acknowledge, they can't police. The syndicates were quick to step up to fill the vacuum left open by a lack of regulation and are only too happy to use those with abilities to their own ends.

Blood Bound Rachel Vincent UK coverIn Blood Bound, the first in Rachel Vincent's Unbound series, Tracker Olivia Warren and her former lover Cam are thrown together to solve the murder of the husband of an old friend. The matter quickly turns into a missing child case; can Liv and Cam resolve the matter without falling foul of the syndicates?

Having read Rachel Vincent's Soul Screamers series, it is safe to say that I am a fan of her writing and I always admired the natural way she would bring scenes alive by effortlessly interspersing dialogue with descriptions of characters preparing food or pouring drinks.

The problem with Blood Bound is that there are so many pages (chapters even) where nothing happens that the addition of rich contextual descriptions made for painful reading. I don't like skimming, you always land up missing something important and having to flip back, but I'm happy to report that I pretty much skimmed the third quarter of the book and felt none-the-poorer for it.

This was made even more apparent by the fact that I guessed the whole plot by the middle of the book. That's not that the book was predictable or that the writing was poor, but I got this whole world the author was describing and guessed where the story was going.

Nothing happening described in minute detail when you know where the story is heading? Not so much fun.

Despite that, I really enjoyed this world, the supernatural abilities and the main characters Liv and Cam. I believe that the next books in the trilogy won't focus directly on Liv and Cam but on other characters in the universe and this quite appeals to me. I just hope that Rachel Vincent realises that was once such a good aspect of her writing is weighing it down now and I'd like to see more action and less context even if it means shorter books.

I give Blood Bound three out of five stars. I'll definitely read the rest of the books in the trilogy but this was a little too wordy for a higher rating.

3 Stars

Secret Cinema Adds More 'Back to the Future' Dates

One week ago, Secret Cinema announced its next cinematic adventure ‘Secret Cinema presents Back to the Future,’ which is set to be the most epic and detailed production to date - bringing the much loved 80’s film back to life at a secret London location. With the promise that this will be the biggest live cinema event ever staged in the UK, a record-breaking 42,000 tickets sold out in 4 hours. 


Did you miss out? Well fear not, Secret Cinema have extended the run of the show and tickets for the new dates between 14th – 31st August  go on sale tomorrow, Wednesday 1pm. Tickets can be purchased via the Secret Cinema website: www.secretcinema.org/tickets. 


Secret Cinema will build the town of Hill Valley and transport audiences into a richly detailed imagined world. Audiences will travel back in time and become citizens of Hill Valley living between 1955 and 1985, with secret alleys and entrances in the town that will allow them to travel to 1985 and 2015. As in previous productions such as Dirty Dancing, Grease and Top Gun – this event will follow the familiar interactive format of immersing audiences into the world of Back to the Future and Hill Valley in the first half of the evening followed by a screening of the classic 80s film alongside extra experiential surprise elements.

 

A Battle of the Bands contest will determine who will play on stage each night, as well as a secret headline high profile band. The famous ‘Enchantment under the Sea’ Prom dance will take place at an after party venue near the secret location. 


Audience participation will feature heavily throughout each event, with audiences becoming characters inside Hill Valley, with some being thrown into a time machine and transported into another existence, and others will become part of the worlds of 1955 and 1985.


Tickets Prices:

Standard: £53.50 + booking fee

Children*: £25.00 + booking fee

Family ticket**: £140 + booking fee

 

*(5-15 years, under 16, must be accompanied by an adult)

** (2 adults, 2 children)

 

Notes

The show will be open to everyone aged 5 and/or older. Children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult. 

Rik Mayall Dead at 56



I rarely jump on the bandwagon when it comes to celebrity deaths; we don’t know these people after all, other than in their capacity as icons and public figures. But I’m genuinely saddened today to read of the death of Rik Mayall at the age of 56. His character in the Young Ones is one of my favourite characters of all time, one that certainly encouraged me to become a raging Marxist anarchist in university (I’m only partially kidding). It seems crazy that Young Ones performed so poorly with only two seasons when ultimately it became a much loved cult classic and a lot of that is down to the foul-mouthed lunatic Rick. 








Book Review: 'Pigeon English' by Stephen Kelman

Pigeon English thumbnail

A lot has been said about knife crime in London in the past two decades especially as relates to gangs and youth fatalities but it is rare that we hear the victims’ stories. Inspired by the death of Damilola Taylor, a ten-year-old immigrant from Nigeria who died shortly before his 11th birthday, author Stephen Kelman explores the life of a young Ghanaian immigrant caught up in a web of knife crime in his Booker Prize nominated debut novel Pigeon English.

Pigeon English is told from the point of view of Harrison Okupu and is narrated in Harri’s own tongue, a mixture of English and both Ghanaian and modern London slang. The book opens with the knifing of a local schoolboy and while they didn’t see the crime itself, Harri and his friends witness the boy’s death. Set in a world of inner city high rises, bullying, gangs and school, Pigeon English follows the path of Harri and his friends as they try explore their surroundings, play at amateur detectives and navigate the slippery slope to gang membership.

Pigeon English is a confounding book. On the one hand, it is utterly authentic and I was most impressed by the author’s capture of Ghanaian vernacular. I loved Harri’s naiveté and his literal and often hilarious interpretation of Londoner’s trademark sarcasm and wit. At ten-years-old, the world is his to explore and conquer and I enjoyed how Harri and his band of accidental detectives came closer to solving the crime than they ever could have imagined.

Pigeon English coverThe difficulty with this book (and I feel ashamed to admit this) is that Harri’s voice is so authentic that I felt compelled to tell him to stop with his prattling already. It was if there was a little child dancing around on the pages in front of me, hopping from subject to subject, talking about his sick sister in Ghana one minute and the pigeon on his balcony the next. To be frank, there isn’t really a good time for that, especially when reading is your chosen method of relaxation.

So yes, Pigeon English certainly deserves the Booker Prize nomination and it is a fantastic glimpse into inner city poverty and crime, exploitation and the vulnerability of young children, but it is a very difficult book to read. I can’t say that I enjoyed reading this book at all but I’m glad that I did. In the day since I finished it I haven’t stopped thinking about the story and it has inspired me to read up more about the case of Damilola Taylor and other young victims of knife crime in London. I dare say that means that Stephen Kelman has achieved what he set out to do.

I give Pigeon English three out of five stars. I do think this is an important book which gives an authentic voice to the character of Harri but it wasn't as enjoyable as I'd hoped.

3 Stars

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