1.The first book I have to mention is Masie goes to Morningside. I loved the Masie series when I was a child. Eileen Paterson was an idle to me and I believe my life and literary skills were moulded by her. I remember when I was five or six , sitting cross-legged on the worn out carpet in the hall above the library with a handle full of other children listening to Eileen reading the newest Masie adventure.
2. Hetty Feather has to be my second choice. Not only does it sound the same as my name or the fact my Nana gave it to me but for some reason this book holds a special place in my heart. I think Jaqueline Wilson books are underrated. As a pre teen I loved devouring her easy to read books with female protagonists but Hetty Feather Definitely stood out to me. Not only does it have similarities with the classic Jane Eyre but even on its own the book has a good story line. Based In the Victorian era we follow Hettys horrific journey as she is ripped away from her comfortable foster family and beloved brother Jem and dumped into a workhouse where she experiences many horrors.
3. A third choice for me is Goodnight Mr Tom. I studied this book in school. The story as a whole is a very warm one. When an evacuee is sent to live with Mr tom he gradually starts to grow into a healthy boy. Until he is sent back to London and to his neglecter mother. However, Mr tom manages to safe him.
4. The Woman In Black. I studied the woman in black at school for my National 5 English. It brings back fond memories for me. Sitting for hours analysing this novel and picking it apart. This book contains many themes such as loss, the battle between good and evil and fear.
5. Black and Blue. I read this book as a 16 year old when I was in a really dark place and for some reason the grittiness and reality of this crime novel resonated with me.
6. Jane Eyre. As an adult now 19(nearly 20) this classic love story connects with me. You feel Jane’s pain and isolation. As she suffers under the harsh hand of her aunt and cousins to then losing her friend at Lowood school. And then the passionate love affair.
He woke his body crumpled on the floor his limbs stiff. A warm stream of light that fell through a gap in the grimy curtains onto his toes was the only part of his body he could feel. He rose to his feet unsteadily reeling slightly placing a hand on the solid white walls. He wore only his pants and a dirty t-shirt. He could feel the worn stubbly stained carpet beneath his feet. It was early November and the desolate flat was deathly bitter. He reached for his jeans on the floor clambering into them desperate for some warmth. The bottom of them was covered in dry sick. He rubbed his pounding foggy head and new the headache was the result of more than the cold. He stumbled through to the kitchen of the flat where he had been squatting. It was already littered in crack needles and food packets from the previous visitors and some rat droppings due to an open hinged window. He reached for a half drunk plastic bottle of Irn Bru and some aspirin. Swallowing three pills down heavily with a slug of sickly E numbers. He grabbed his smashed up iPhone which had a little charge, and scrawled down to her number. It dialled each ring hollow. She answer it was her voice. Her sweet slightly fatigued voice. “Hello” she said hesitantly as if she knew it was him. “Stace it’s me !!” he said his voice sounded highly strung in the empty flat. There was a heavy sign on the other end “stop calling Rebus I’ve told you this or I’m going to call the police. Your harassing me” she said tiredly. “we need to talk Stace I know I’ve messed up in the past but I can change I promise just let me come back let me see jack he’s my boy I’m aloud to see him” he said desperately. “Why” she spat. “what good would you do him” there was a pause her anger fizzling out. “I supported you for years rebus. I swept your drinking under the carpet I handed you money I even did nothing when you bruised me up, I can’t do that anymore not when you lost your job I can’t support you I told you that. “ she said in a tone of hopeless despair. “I’ll change stace I promise. I’ll get a job I’ll make money I’ll provide for you and not spend it on drink you have to believe me” He begged. “no you won’t!!!” she screamed “you don’t care not about anyone but yourself do you not think I struggle do you not think we all do but I still do it” she said. “ I was ill stace I’m sorry….” He tailed off. “so what” she said “do you not think we all are do you not think I wanted to go to sleep forever when you left but I can’t because I’ve got a son to look after and bills to pay you twat” she spat. “please stace” he soothed. “don’t do that” her voice cracked “don’t pretend to be the strong one” she shouted “you’re a weak selfish man John there’s nothing more to it” she rung off leaving the line ringing emptily in his ear. He through the phone at the wall in anger so the battery fell out and clattered to the floor. He fell against the door no longer able to support his body. He wanted to be dead. No he didn’t that wasn’t it he feared death just like any animal. He just had an intense craving for relieve. He looked out the windows at the sun dancing upon the roof tops. A thought came to his mind from when he was a boy. Sitting with his grandfather beside the electric fire the old man sipping on his pipe. “At one point you realise John when you strip it all back theirs no such thing as failure it doesn’t matter where you are on the status spectrum or the buggered things you’ve done or the people you’ve hurt the people who are scared of failure and scared of success so they stay stuck they’re the only failures in life. Their the ones who get depressed and turn to drink and sex and religion and drugs and violence to block it out. They’re the ones who will die in fear. The world isn’t safe John or pleasant but there is a way to find some content. And that’s to never give up.”
Ian Rankin Dead Souls is admittedly the first book I’ve read this year. Yes, I know that’s quite bad but this book was a bit of a slog to get through. Ian Rankins great prose allowed me enough stamina to finish it cover to cover though which I’m quite proud of. However, in all honesty, the plot of this book I found just slightly confusing. Usually if a writer’s style is disengaging It’ll put me off a book, but Ian Rankins Prose is so engaging and humorous he could literally write about drying paint and I would still read it. Dead Souls is the tenth Inspector Rebus Novel the follow up book after his most popular break through sensation Black and Blue. I think throughout reading this book I was perhaps guilty of comparing it to Black and Blue and it may have affected my enjoyment of it. As the annoying thing about great writers like Ian Rankin who write huge series is you always end up comparing their work to other work they have produced and sometimes not everything is as strong, yet individually it is compared to other writers.
The book centres around the theme of paedophilia which is a sensitive issue in itself and hard to enjoy reading about although I respect Ian Rankin as a writer for not shying away from these topics. The book starts off in the setting of a Zoo when Rebus spies Darren rough an old convicted paedophile he recognises. He then pursues Rough and it gets taken to court. In court Rebus is shown up as Rough has served his sentence and is no longer guilty so inspector rebus had no reason to chase him. Flaws like this prop up throughout the book as Rebus is worn down after a recent accident involving his daughter that left her paralysed. This makes him appear more vulnerable in this book. The book also involves the theme of Suicide and starts on an unsteady foot after the suicide of Jim Margolies a colleague of Inspector Rebuses In the police force. His suicide is out of the blue so the question runs throughout the book of wither it was suicide or murder. Darren Rough was also one of the last people to see Jim Stevens alive so we are very suspicious of Rough. Rough Is one of the main characters in the book. He has been brought into the local area Rebus Works in, in Edinburgh because of a case involving his own abuse that he went through as a child in care. This makes the reader have mixed feelings towards him and its interesting how Rankin always creates such controversial characters that are never easy for the reader to have black and white good/bad feelings towards. In turn making his characters appear more human and their actions have more shades of grey and be more realistic raising the question in the mind of the reader of can horrific crimes ever be justified? Darren rough is housed in a council flat near a kid’s playground and Rebus leaks this information to the press. Another slip we witness from Rebus. Residents in his housing block find out about Roughs identify and become angered. Knowing their fears over Darren Rough will be ignored by the authorities they take matters into their own hands and witch hunt Rough smashing his windows and smearing shit on his door and harbouring the desire to kill him. This again makes the reader have slight controversial sympathy towards Rough. Rebus then has to make up for his actions and allows Rough to stay in the safety of his flat. However not long after this Rough goes missing and is later found Murdered (Spoiler Alert!!)
Quite a few murders and suspicious Deaths Happen Throughout the book.
- Jim Margolies
- Darren Rough
- An old case of a girl (A niece of Alan Archibald)
Alan Archibald is another character who comes into the book, and is investigating the murder of his niece and suspects Carry Oaks of being the murder. Carry oaks is the main antagonist of the book and the one suspected of murdering Rough and Alan Archibald’s niece. (Note: A lot of the main dramatic scenes involving these characters happen in the last part of the book and we find out what happened to everyone so it really is worth holding on even if the middle of the book did dip a little.)
Another Dramatic part of the book happens when Rebus Is away in cardenden visiting an old girlfriend from school Janice. (Throughout the book, we get a few scenes of nostalgia over Rebuses old life this could perhaps be with him getting older) When he returns his house has been broken into and white paint written on his walls saying “his girl cop murdered oaks” this is unsettling as Rebuses partner patience was in the house at the time.
At the end of the book Oak ends up murdering Alan Archibald because he is investigating him. This is a foreseen tragedy as Rebus was there at the time as they had walked up to the hills where Alan Archibald’s niece was murdered believing oaks was going to give them information but instead leads the into a trap. This is another flaw of Rebus as usually he would have prevented this, but it makes him seem like a flesh and blood human who makes mistakes. In the last two chapters of the book, the story is resolved. There is another battle of between oaks and Rebus and oaks gets caught in the end although he gets very close to murdering Rebus. We also find out the Suicide of Jim Margolise had to do with incest as his father had caused the suicide of his sister as a child due to abusing her, and his father had also abused Rough. Jim Margolis was so terrified of having the desire to abuse his own daughter that he killed himself. Oaks also was one of the ones who abused rough and is the one who murders him as he becomes scared that he is going to say something as they are investigating his childhood abuse. Over all it’s quite a good book and I think I grasped most of it if I didn’t I think that may be because I’m a weak reader and not because of the writer himself. I would suggest giving it a go though and definitely Highly recommend Ian Rankins books. (Although it wasn’t as good as Black and Blue in my opinion but still very good)
“Men liked to have their little secrets and tell their little lies. They liked to have a sense of illicit.”
“It was all shit Jim, remember that till the day you die”
“That’s how it is these days Rebus no one gives a shit”
Knots and Crosses Is the first book in the Inspector Rebus Series by Ian Rankin. The book is mainly used as an introduction to the main character Inspector Rebus whom we follow throughout the series. The Series are popular for Ian’s masterful depiction of reality. He manages to successfully dig beneath the surface of Scotland’s facades and create a gritty picture of Scotland’s underclass and reveal its flaws.
The stories are told through Rebuses eyes. As a detective, he has access to some of the most chilling crimes and settings and we see some of the harsh truths of Scotland from his perspective. The personality of his character is important. He is not a character that a reader can easily fall in love with he can be grumpy, callous and perhaps even stoic at some points. He suffers from person flaws such as being a divorcee maintaining a weak relationship with his daughter and suffering from alcohol abuse. Despite this we trust as the characters flaws make him appear more human.
The plot of the book centres around young girls going missing and getting murdered in Edinburgh. The reader is given an insight into Inspector Rebuses past before his life in the police force when he is put under hypnosis by his brother Michael. We discover that Inspector Rebus used to be in the SAS and was captured as a prisoner of war and tortured by being placed in solitary confident. After escaping he suffered a breakdown and left to join the police force. We discover that this has a relation to the kidnappings and the main antagonist in the book was also in solitary confinement with Rebus in the SAS. The book climaxes at the end when Inspector Rebuses own daughter Sammy is kidnapped. The kidnapper is framing as an innocent role of librarian and this is how he is gaining access to the young girl’s identity’s.
Overall the book is an exciting short introduction to the series and the adventures of Inspector Rebus which are yet to come……