Harper Lee Go Set Watchman Review

Harper Lee Review: Is Go Set a Watchmen Worth the Read?

Book Reviews

In “Go Set a Watchman” Scout discovers the racial tensions that have shaped her society, her family, and herself.

Is Harper Lee Go Set a Watchmen Worth the ReadFrom the moment I finished reading “To Kill a Mocking Bird,” I ached for another Harper Lee title to devour. So when I passed an Exclusive Books store and saw the bright orange covers decorating their  display, I had to have a copy – especially since my birthday was days away.

Jean-Louis Finch returns to Maycomb

By the author of “To Kill a Mocking Bird”, Go Set Watchmen chronicles Jean-Louis Finch’s homecoming after pursuing a career in journalism in New York. But when she gets home, Jean-Louis, aka Scout, finds that her beloved town and the people she holds dear have changed. Or have they?

 

Revisiting the beloved world of To Kill a Mockingbird

The nostalgia of “visiting” with Jean-Louis, Aunt Alexandra, and Atticus was a highlight. I could relate with Scout’s journey home and seeing everyone with a new perspective.

I also enjoyed the moments when Scout reminisces about her youth, her rows with Cal, and annoyances with Jem. 

 

A different side of Attichus Finch

Harper Lee Go Set Watchman Quote

Nostalgia aside, Chapters 18 and 19 were okay. In these chapters, Scout, who is angry that her father and fiancé are opposed to the civil rights movement, shares her vexation with her uncle, Jack. But instead of a sympathetic ear, he make her see the light. Uncle Jack spends two chapters explaining why conservative white Americans are “justified” in opposing the civil rights movement and its aftermath.

Though I don’t agree with any of his claims, Go Set a Watchman, and these chapters in particular, voice the other side of the civil rights discourse. We seldom hear, see, or read literature that shed light on why these movements are opposed. Although I don’t hold those views, I feel it’s important that such voices exist in literature.

 

Go Set a Watchman was disappointing

Harper Lee Go Set a Watchman Quote

I found it unnecessarily long, and there was no clear plot to speak of. It dragged. I didn’t appreciate how all the characters told Scout “You don’t understand”, or “Try looking at things from my perspective” – which is fine but it felt like everyone was telling Scout, “We are right, you are wrong.” Also after her conversation with her uncle Scout is so vexed that she wants to leave town. However, her uncle slaps her and she suddenly has an epiphany and everything makes sense. In two sentences she goes from “I’m leaving don’t stop me” to “It all makes sense now” which is unrealistic and disappointing. After that paragraph, I skipped to the last page and ended my misery.

 

Final Thoughts

I would recommend Go Set a Watchman as a collector’s piece. It’s Harper Lee’s original manuscript and thus has literary and sentimental value. The orange cover will also liven up any bookshelf. Having said that, I would not recommend reading it as fiction. Perhaps as a literary insight into an author’s refining process.

Rating: ⭐ ⭐

Buy this book | Read it on Scribd

What is your favourite historical fiction book?


About Harper Lee

Harper Lee was born in 1926 in Monroeville, Alabama. She is the author of the acclaimed novels To Kill a Mockingbird and Go Set a Watchman, and was awarded the Pulitzer Prize, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and numerous other literary awards and honors. She died on February 19, 2016.

 

Stephen King Book Review: The Shawshank Redemption

Book Reviews

Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption is a story about hope, friendship, identity, and unwavering determination in the most hopeless of places – a prison.

Stephen King's Shawshank Quote

 

I’ve watched the movie adaptation of Stephen King’s novella, The Shawshank Redemption, so much that I could probably quote the opening narration verbatim. It’s one of my favourite movies of all time. Yet, I never noticed the graphic text that read “Based on the novel by Stephen King” – talk about attention to detail. In fact I stumbled across an e-Book version of the novella while google something that was clearly important at the time. So of course I had to read it.

Why The Fifth Season is My Favorite Book

Book Reviews

Weekday Adventures (1)I’m reading The Broken Earth series with the lovely folks over at the Fantasy Buddy Reads Group on Goodreads.  Beyond Middle Earth and Westeros, I haven’t explored the world of fantasy fiction much. Nevertheless, since I enjoy the genre on both the big and small screens, I took the plunge. And am I ever glad I did.

 

 

Initial Insights

The Fifth Season is the first book in The Broken Earth series by N.K. Jemisin. In this epic dystopian fantasy, Jemisin narrates the events that led up to the end of the world and the effect it had on the inhabitants of the Stillness.

In The Fifth Season, Jemisin gracefully explores what it means to be human and how ignoring our innate worth can have severe consequences.

 

Weekday Adventures (2)

As a start to the series, it introduces the geography, history, and politics of the Stillness. The Fifth Season also shapes the main characters, giving the reader a look at their humanity and brokenness. It also provides an intro to orogeny which is a valuable but dangerous super power. By the end of The Fifth Season, the reader knows that the world has ended, who caused it and why.

 

What I Liked

I enjoyed Jemisin’s narrative style – which switches between second person and third person depending on the POV. It reminded me of Toni Morrison’s style in The Bluest Eye, which I’ve actually missed in the books I’ve read of late. Jemisin’s ability to weave story lines and arc in an engaging way is remarkable.

Each storyline developed at a great pace filled with action, romance, and suspense. Each character developed through the challenges they faced and the secrets they discovered about the world, the Stillness.

The visuals were great too, from the obelisks to Yumenese and the islands, Jemisin paints lovely and gruesome pictures that allow the reader to escape into Stillness and experience life with the characters. The nature of orogeny and the extent of an orogene’s capabilities is revealed in stages, which lets the reader discover new capabilities with the character.

The foreshadowing in the novel is another well-written feature. There’s an appealing balance between what is revealed and what remains a mystery.

Alabaster was definitely my favourite character other than Syenite. Reading the Fifth Season was also fun because it felt African. The dreadlocks and complexion aside. For instance, there’s a scene where Damaya’s mother calls her “Dama Dama” and it felt like reading something homegrown. It was refreshing.

 

What I Didn’t Like

 

It took a while for me to realize that the story is set in three eras. This made the geography confusing at times. I didn’t care much for the love triangle, mostly because I prefer fantasy without romance – more adventure please. Having said that, Jemisin handled it well, subtly weaving in the romantic subplot without distracting from the actual story. For that, I credit her. However, if you enjoy reading about poly-amorous characters and open relationships, this aspect of the novel will be perfect.

 

Final Thoughts

The Fifth Season starts with the end of the world and then moves on to more interesting things. I thoroughly enjoyed the story, the Stillness and its people, and Jemisin’s writing. The Fifth season is definitely making my top ten list. The Prologue was also confusing at first. However, when I finished I re-read portions of it and it made more sense.

 

Favourite quotes

This read had so many memorable moments and tweetable quotes. Choosing my favourites proved difficult. But here they are:

“He takes all that, the strata and the magma and the people and the power, in his imaginary hands. Everything. He holds it. He is not alone. The earth is with him. Then he breaks it.”

“Nothing to do but follow your crazy, though.”

“The source of the glow is beyond the mountains, as if the setting sun went the wrong way and got stuck there.”

“neither myths nor mysteries can hold a candle to the most infinitesimal spark of hope.”

Rating:  ⭐ 


Buy this On: Exclusive BooksAmazon

About the Author

N. K. Jemisin is an author living and writing in Brooklyn, NY. This is fortunate as she enjoys subways, tiny apartments, and long walks through city parks. Her short fiction has been published in a number of magazines and podcast markets, and has been nominated for the Hugo and Nebula award. She won the Locus Award for Best First Novel and the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award.

Why I Love this Authentically South African Anthology

Book Reviews, South African Authors

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Growing up in a multilingual country has it’s advantages. Most South Africans are fluent in at least two languages, so it’s not uncommon for people to code-switch in everyday conversation. And it’s not always because you can’t find the English or Afrikaans word for something. No, we simply fuse different languages into one. In her debut short story collection, Tjieng Tjang Tjerries and other stories, Jolyn Phillips captures the multilingual heart of average South Africans.

 

Initial Insights

Tjieng Tjang Tjerries and other stories is a whimsical collection of tales set in the fishing villages around Gansbaai, South Africa. Using memorable characters, witty dialog, and a charming background, Jolyn takes the reader on a journey of loss, laughter, and sheer calculated silliness.

 

An Imaginative Approach

Jolyn’s writing style is unique and inventive. In a world of dragons, hobbits, and dark lords, it’s refreshing to find writing that feels like home. Each story filled me with nostalgia for childhood days spent playing in my neighborhood until streetlights signaled it was time to head indoors. Her tales of nosey neighbors, unfortunate dogs, and the messiness of small-town life, is relevant and relatable .

 

Reading Between the Lines

Moreover, Jolyn explores themes like mental illness, secrets, poverty, rape, and molestation with an authenticity and sensitivity that I appreciated. In a world that calls for justice and trigger warnings, it can be difficult to shed light on social ills without offending the reader. Philips achieves this flawlessly.

My favorite stories in this collection were The Photograph, Secrets, The Fire, The Big Box, and The Legend of Tjieng Tjang Tjerries.

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What I Didn’t Like

 

This collection is multilingual and although I understood the references other readers may not, so I would have liked to see a glossary. At times Phillips translated phrases and colloquial sayings into English which was annoying at times. Some of the stories fell flat and could have used a bit more punch.

 

Final Thoughts

I believe good writing should invite the reader to visit the locations described in the prose and Jolyn did just that. Her words painted landscapes on the canvas of my imagination. For the brief moments between the pages of Tjieng Tjang Tjerries, I traveled the streets of the small fishing villages of the West Coast. I would definitely recommend Tjieng Tjang Tjerries and other stories.

Rating:


About the Author

Jolyn Phillips was born and bred in Blompark, Gansbaai, South Africa. Her debut collection of short stories, Tjieng Tjang Tjerries and other stories, won the 2018 Best Fiction (Single Author) award at the third annual Humanities and Social Sciences Awards, hosted by the National Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences (NIHSS). She is currently studying towards a PhD at the University of the Western Cape. She lectures part-time and is also known as a singer. Radbraak is her first collection of poetry.

My First Wild Card Novel

Book Reviews, Wild Card Universe

Mississippi Roll was my intro into the Wild Card Universe. In all honesty, I was expecting a pocker-game-gone-wrong-in-the-wild-wild-west kind of novel. Boy was I in for a surprise! Mississippi Roll is not the kind of novel I usually read. I flee from the science fiction side of the fantasy genre and prefer elves, dragons, and far off kingdoms. But I persisted and I’m glad I did.

 

Initial insights

 

George R. R. Martin assembled a gifted group of writers who chronicle the Natchez’s final voyage on the Mississippi River. Mississippi Roll has something for everyone. From an old-school haunted ship story to a rescue mission, showbiz, and a who-done-it crime. Each story had a unique voice that added to a greater story.

 

A Captivating Mystery

 

I thoroughly enjoyed Death on the Water by Cherie Priest. One of the staff members on the boat Natchez is murdered and it’s up to Leo Storgman, an insurance investigator, to find the truth. I really liked Priest’s humor and storytelling. Usually, I’d try to figure out what happens next but I was so enthralled that I didn’t even think about it. I simply relished in following Priest’s trail to the final reveal. A Big Break in the Small Time by Carrie Vaughn, was another favorite of mine.

 

Not What I was Expecting

I was unprepared for the lengthy “chapters”. I wasn’t expecting a collection of short stories, so it took a while to adjust to the length of each story. I couldn’t follow Wingless Angel by John Jos. Miller. I attribute most of this to the fact that I didn’t understand the world and as a result, felt lost. I didn’t really care for In the Shadow of Tall Stacks either. Those chapters just felt really long. I only realized what the Wild Card universe is about in chapter three and struggled to remember the difference between jokers and aces through much of the book.

 

Final thoughts

 

I was pleasantly surprised by Mississippi Roll and I would probably read future books in the Wild Card series. I’ll give it 4 out of 5 stars. I’d like to thank MacMillian Tor Publishing and NetGalley for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Ratings:

Why I Love The Bluest Eye

Book Reviews, Uncategorized

Weekday Adventures

Today I’m doing a throwback to a book I read last year. My creative writing lecturer recommended this book years ago because of the timeline Morrison uses in The Bluest Eye. I finally read it. And from the first page Morrison’s style, and play with words captivated me.

Initial Insights

The Bluest Eye was like coming up for air. I’d read three John Grisham novels back to back (which I would not recommend) and needed something that would remind me why I enjoy reading.

Set in Lorain, Ohio, this epic tragedy tells the story of a little black girl, Pecola Breedlove, who longs for Blue Eyes. No. The bluest eyes in the world. Using different POVs and writing techniques, Morrison touches on beauty, abuse, racism, incest, and our innate desire to belong and be loved.

What I liked

The novel starts with a children’s story based on a basal reader Fun With Dick and Jane.

“Here is the house. It is green and white. It has a red door. It is very pretty. Here is the family. Mother, Father, Dick, and Jane live in the green-and-white house. They are very happy. See Jane. She has a red dress. She wants to play. Who will play with Jane?…”

This simple refrain is repeated but deconstructed in a manner that paints the destruction of each character, especially Pecola. It set the tone for the story Morrison’s technique also shadows the events in the story.

Pecola’s story is told through the narrative of others in her community: her friend, her parents, strangers. As if she has no voice of her own, which is sad but the Bluest Eye was meant to be a tragedy.

Morrison’s character development intrigued me. Most chapters had a different story arc that tied into Pecola’s life toward the end but the processed showed the brokenness of each character. I didn’t mind it at first because I suppose she wanted to show the flaws in all of them and the reasons for their actions. I found this interesting because other than Pecola’s father, Cholly Breedlove, I could empathize with all the characters.

Then there were the different narrative styles for each POV. The entire book is narrated by Claudia, who is looking back on a specific year when the Marigolds didn’t grow in their town. In the first section as Pecola’s storyline is explored, the narrative is simple and really true to the narrator. Short sentences humorous moments that reminded me of Scout and Jeremy Finch’s antics in “To Kill a Mocking Bird”.

Later the narrative style changes as Morrison explores Pecola’s parents through flashbacks and more complex sentence structure. Pauline Breedlove’s chapter was fun to read. Mostly because Morrison cut through the flashbacks with stretches of first person monologues. It felt as if Pauline was watching a documentary about her life and then clicked pause to reflect on key moments and their impact in her life and consequently Pecola’s.

Cholly’s chapter follows a similar style to Pauline’s but without the monologues. After Cholly’s back story we have Soaphead, whose story is also told in the third person narrative but includes a letter to God which he essentially writes to vent. In the letter, the reader is given a foretaste into Pecola’s fate.

Morrison ends with a dialogue between Pecola and either her inner self or an imaginary friend about her rape, her blue eyes, and whether she has the bluest eyes in the world. It’s really sad. This section has absolutely no narration just dialogue but again it was used in a creative way to communicate Pecola’s fate.

And then Claudia briefly wraps it all up with commentary on her and the community’s role in what becomes of Pecola. Much like the closing narrative in The Film version of the Help (still need to read the book).

What I didn’t like

After page 125 of this version, it gets quite graphic. There are a number of explicit sections. I skipped much of Cholly’s chapter and Soaphead’s letter.

Though the backstories served a purpose in the overall tale, I grew tired of being introduced to some new in each chapter. And I felt that Soaphead Church’s story was unnecessarily explicit in areas. Much of his letter was unneeded, in my opinion.

Final thoughts

Overall I loved this story. It was sad and deep and dark and it’s definitely a heavy read emotionally. But Morrison’s artistry makes it one of my literary treasures. I’d recommend it. But have something light-hearted on standby.

Rating:


Buy this book: On Amazon | Exclusive Books

About the Author

Toni Morrison was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1993. She is the author of several novels, including The Bluest Eye, Beloved (made into a major film), and Love. She has received the National Book Critics Circle Award and a Pulitzer Prize. She is the Robert F. Goheen Professor at Princeton University.

What type of novels do you prefer?

Alice Returns to Wonderland as an Assassin

Book Reviews, Netgalley ARCs

Ever Alice by H.J. Ramsay is an Alice in Wonderland re-imagining that chronicles Alice’s life after Wonderland.

Initial Insights

Ramsay’s “sequel” to the classic children’s story starts with Alice in a psychiatric hospital where the White Rabbit enlists her to assassinate the Queen of Hearts. Consequently, Alice returns to Wonderland as an undercover agent in the Queen’s court as one of her handmaids.

Two Side to the Story

Ever Alice is written with two point of view, or POV, characters – Alice and the Queen of Hearts. Personally, I enjoy books with multiple POVs, particularly if one of those perspectives is a villain’s. I enjoyed learning more about the Queen. She was still the clear antagonist but her chapters shed light on her motivations, exposing her vulnerabilities and insecurities and making her slightly more human – but only slightly. The reader gets a glimpse into her origin as the Queen of Hearts and how she came to be the of-with-his-head dictator everyone loves to hate.

I clearly enjoyed the Queen’s story arc more than Alice’s. What makes it work is the readers knowledge of storytelling. From the assassination plan to her majesty’s paranoia about everything (I kid you not), Ramsay creates a tension that captivates.

Nostalgia Sells

Ever Alice also stayed true to the elements that made the original memorable. It is filled with quotes such as, “But are you the right Alice?” and “Off with his head!”  The strange and quirky Wonderland language and beloved characters, make this a beautiful tribute to an old favorite.

Final Thoughts

Did I like it? It was okay. I definitely appreciated Ramsay’s craft and writing style and look forward to reading other titles by her. Though the plot was predictable I still enjoyed the experience. The twists were intriguing and if Ever Alice has a sequel I would read it too. Ever Alice is set to be published in August 2019. So, if you like re-tellings, it is available for pre-order on Amazon.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

*Thank you NetGalley and Red Rogue Press for sending me an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.

From Stellies to Melkies in One Day

One Day Itinerary, What to do in Cape Town

It’s Summer in Cape Town and the perfect time to explore Cape Town. So, why not do a one day tour, from Stellenbosch to Melkbos before the hustle of bustle of the festive season sets in.

butterfly orrange

Butterflies free flying

1. First Stop, Stellenbosch

Start off your day with a trip to the exotic Butterfly World Zoo. Situated on the picturesque Route 44 near Stellenbosch, this animal sanctuary  is the perfect place to unwind after a gruesome week and simply enjoy the beauty of nature. Upon stepping into the zoo, you’ll be greeted by trees, flowers, and the sound of water gushing and birds singing. Ah! and the butterflies, of course – a myriad of free flying butterflies at every turn. Marvel at the bird life, visit the reptile park inhale the wonder of creation.

 

Table Mountain from Blouberg Beach

A breathtaking view of Table Mountain from Blouberg Beach.

2. Fun in the Sun on Blouberg Beach

Next, take the N1 south to Blouberg Beach for some beach side fun. As one of Cape Town’s most popular beaches, Blouberg Beach is known for its white sandy beaches, kite surfers, and an iconic view of Table Mountain and Robben Island. If your lucky, you may even come across a cape fur seal soaking up the sun. Be careful not to get to close though.

Melkbosstrand park

Take a stroll along the beach front at Melkbosstrand.

3. Dinner with a View in Melkbosstrand

Finally, hit the road again to end your day in Melkbosstrand. Known to local as Melkies, it hosts a variety of restaurants and pubs with a view of the ocean. And if you’re not famished upon arrival, the smell of steaks grilled to perfection is sure to get your mouth watering. Hidden along the west coast, Melkbosstrand is the ideal location to experience the a true African sunset.