Quick Book Reviews: ‘Switch Bitch’

switch-bitch

Switch Bitch (Roald Dahl)

Simply put, this is a collection of short stories about sex. But this isn’t as cheap and tawdry as you might imagine; the stories are all wonderfully inventive and each with delightful twists at the end. Indeed, you’d expect nothing less from Mr. Dahl. This was something of a bizarre read for me as well, as I’d only ever read his works intended for children (although they could get dark and twisted in places as well), Charlie and the Chocolate Factory being a particular favourite of mine growing up. So reading one of his more adult-oriented works was certainly an experience for sure. What he does especially well in this collection is effortlessly make parts of the stories emotionally crushing yet hilarious at the same time, which is no mean feat.

Two of the stories, ‘The Visitor’ and ‘Bitch’ are told from the perspective of ‘Uncle Oswald’, presented as a notorious womaniser whose memoirs have been discovered by his family. ‘Visitor’ is particularly brilliant as, not to give anything away, a dream-come-true (for him) scenario of sleeping with another man’s wife and daughter becomes a nightmare, when he is cruelly, yet justly punished for his intended transgression at the end. My first reaction was ‘Oh….shit’ but quickly turned to hysterical laughter. ‘Bitch’ meanwhile is perhaps a little silliler and ‘out there’, the ending in particular, but it captures the sheer primality of our carnal desires very well. The character in general, despite his attitude towards women (he has a strict ‘one time only’ policy’, which he repeatedly stresses), and complete lack of morals, is one you just can’t truly hate, and his (mis)adventures are truly a joy to read.

‘The Great Switcheroo’ meanwhile, involves two husbands crafting a master plan to sleep with each other’s wives, without the wives actually knowing that it isn’t their husband in the act with them. If this sounds completely implausible, suspend your disbelief – the plan and how it is carried out is actually quite ingenious, and fully explained step-by-step, again emphasising the lengths we will go to for sex. Again, not to spoil things too much, but while the plan technically does work, it has devastating consequences for one of the husbands in question, but again, this is written in such a way that is darkly humorous.

‘The Last Act’, meanwhile, is probably the most brutal of the four – there is little comedy in this one, given that it deals with a woman contemplating suicide following the tragic passing of her husband. While this ends up being delayed when she lands herself a job, an encounter with an old flame quickly sends her falling into the abyss again, and I personally had to put the book down and process what I had just read after the ending, which really does show how cruel and callous humanity can be, at its worst. It pulls no punches, this one, and is a very raw and emotional read. Probably just as well, then, that the more light-hearted ‘Bitch’ is the story to close the collection.

Overall, I really enjoyed this collection, and read it all more or less in one sitting – I was certainly hooked in. Would highly recommend it, and therefore will award it a 5/5!

Check out my first poetry collection, ‘The Awakening’, avaliable NOW!

Paperback – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Awakening-Selection-Poems-Stuart-Peacock/dp/1911476335

eBook-: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B017BZBH6M

The ‘To Read’ List (Updated 22nd Feb 2017)

toreadpile

EDIT: Updated 22nd February 2017 – Links to reviews of Saint Odd and Of Mice and Men added.

…As for the subject of this post; yes, it is the dreaded ‘To Read’ pile that, for those like me who enjoy a good book, seems to grow ever bigger due to the heavy demands and committments of our everyday lives. It became a bit of a problem for me last year, as I was constantly buying books from second-hand bookshops/charity shops, thinking ‘I’ll get to all these someday’, only to find I had so many building up in my room, still unread. It was at that point I literally sorted them into a ‘To Read’ pile, and began, you know, actually reading the blasted things, further vowing to not buy anymore until I had finished them. I’ll admit I make the occassional exception – if there is a new Margaret Atwood coming out I will either buy it or ask for it as a gift, for example – but I’ve generally managed to keep to this pretty well. So, in order to keep an actual list for myself, here are all of the books that have amassed in the pile, with links to their Goodreads pages (I will give my account on there some attention as I work through all of these as well!). Click to read on…

Continue reading

The ‘To Read’ List (Updated 31st Jan 2017)

toreadpile

EDIT: Updated 31st January 2017 – The Collected Works of Edgar Allen Poe added, link to review of How to Look for a Lost Dog.

…As for the subject of this post; yes, it is the dreaded ‘To Read’ pile that, for those like me who enjoy a good book, seems to grow ever bigger due to the heavy demands and committments of our everyday lives. It became a bit of a problem for me last year, as I was constantly buying books from second-hand bookshops/charity shops, thinking ‘I’ll get to all these someday’, only to find I had so many building up in my room, still unread. It was at that point I literally sorted them into a ‘To Read’ pile, and began, you know, actually reading the blasted things, further vowing to not buy anymore until I had finished them. I’ll admit I make the occassional exception – if there is a new Margaret Atwood coming out I will either buy it or ask for it as a gift, for example – but I’ve generally managed to keep to this pretty well. So, in order to keep an actual list for myself, here are all of the books that have amassed in the pile, with links to their Goodreads pages (I will give my account on there some attention as I work through all of these as well!). Click to read on…

Continue reading

The ‘To Read’ List (Updated 6th Jan 2017)

toreadpile

EDIT: Updated 6th January 2016 – Links to recent book reviews added, How to Look for a Lost Dog added to list.

…As for the subject of this post; yes, it is the dreaded ‘To Read’ pile that, for those like me who enjoy a good book, seems to grow ever bigger due to the heavy demands and committments of our everyday lives. It became a bit of a problem for me last year, as I was constantly buying books from second-hand bookshops/charity shops, thinking ‘I’ll get to all these someday’, only to find I had so many building up in my room, still unread. It was at that point I literally sorted them into a ‘To Read’ pile, and began, you know, actually reading the blasted things, further vowing to not buy anymore until I had finished them. I’ll admit I make the occassional exception – if there is a new Margaret Atwood coming out I will either buy it or ask for it as a gift, for example – but I’ve generally managed to keep to this pretty well. So, in order to keep an actual list for myself, here are all of the books that have amassed in the pile, with links to their Goodreads pages (I will give my account on there some attention as I work through all of these as well!). Click to read on…

Continue reading

Quick Book Review: Hag-Seed (Margaret Atwood)

hag-seed

Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood is one of my all-time favourite authors; my love affair beginning way back in my sixth form English Literature class where we studied The Handmaid’s Tale (one of her more famous works, adapted as a film in 1990 and soon to be a 10-episode TV series on streaming service Hulu). This chilling dystopian vision so beautifully written led me to read her other books, and I still make it a point to read any new material of hers to this day. Therefore it was a lovely surprise on Christmas Day to receive Hag-Seed as a present from my boyfriend, who is well aware of my fondness for the Canadian author.

Hag-Seed presents itself as a modern re-telling of Shakespeare’s The Tempest – I do very much enjoy the Bard’s works as well (again, this stems from studying many of his plays at school). This isn’t the first time Atwood has attempted her own spin on a classic – she also previously wrote The Penelopiad, which was a re-telling of Homer’s Odyssey, only this time from told from the perspective of Odysseus’s wife Penelope. This provided a humorous take on the classic tale, but also allowed for a more modern examination of the role of gender within society, and was an entertaining read all round. Therefore I was looking forward to reading Atwood’s take on Shakespeare, and I was certainly not disappointed.

The book tells the story of Felix, a big name in theatre whose world comes crashing down when he is forcibly removed from his own production of The Tempest. After years of stewing in solitude and thoughts of revenge, he ends up teaching a theatre course to inmates at the local prison, and sees the chance to finally put on the play that he has so desperately wanted to all these years, but also plots to use it as a tool of revenge against those who betrayed him. The novel of course has Atwood’s familar brand of witty cynicism in its overall tone,  but is also a very touching story, with the reader rooting for Felix and the prisoners all the way through, with the struggles they face in putting the production together. The differing intepretations of the plot and characters among the inmates is very interesting as well, and it is an intriguing idea to see things from their point of view, given the sort of lives they have led to end up imprisoned in the first place. As well as the play itself, once fully realised, providing a humourous execution of Felix’s long-plotted vengeance, Atwood has also very cleverly made Felix’s story and the plot itself a subtle re-telling of The Tempest as well. This means it can be a satisfying read for those already familar with the original play, or be a springboard to perhaps encourage a reader to investigate Shakespeare for themselves, as well as being a gripping read in its own right.

I laughed, I almost cried as I read through this fantastic book, and would highly recommend it to fans of Atwood and Shakespeare alike, but should also prove a worthwhile read even to those not completely familar with either.

A 5/5 from me!

Check out my first poetry collection, ‘The Awakening’, available NOW for download as an eBook on Amazon. Check it out here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B017BZBH6M

The ‘To Read’ List (Updated 1st September 2016)

toreadpile

EDIT: Updated 1st September 2016 – I removed a couple of books from the list, as I realised that I probably wouldn’t actually enjoy them (they kind of just ended up in my possession, rather than being purchased), but I have added a few recent second-hand pick ups 🙂

…As for the subject of this post; yes, it is the dreaded ‘To Read’ pile that, for those like me who enjoy a good book, seems to grow ever bigger due to the heavy demands and committments of our everyday lives. It became a bit of a problem for me last year, as I was constantly buying books from second-hand bookshops/charity shops, thinking ‘I’ll get to all these someday’, only to find I had so many building up in my room, still unread. It was at that point I literally sorted them into a ‘To Read’ pile, and began, you know, actually reading the blasted things, further vowing to not buy anymore until I had finished them. I’ll admit I make the occassional exception – if there is a new Margaret Atwood coming out I will either buy it or ask for it as a gift, for example – but I’ve generally managed to keep to this pretty well. So, in order to keep an actual list for myself, here are all of the books that have amassed in the pile, with links to their Goodreads pages (I will give my account on there some attention as I work through all of these as well!). Click to read on…

Continue reading