Tuesday, 3 March 2015

This is not goodbye...

As some of you may or may not know, on Thursday the 5th of March 2015, I’m off on a solo backpacking adventure to Southeast Asia. 

Although I’ve been gearing towards it for months now, its been a long time coming and suddenly the time has arrived! I don’t have a huge amount to spend so I am hoping for a good couple of months out there before I return to the UK. 

I’m starting in Vietnam and am hoping to see at least Cambodia and Thailand as well. Anywhere else would be a bonus! 

As my time will mostly be taken up with travelling, sight-seeing and maybe even soul-searching, I will not be able to maintain reviewing and blogging so I am taking a little break. I’ll still be reading whilst I’m away though, as I’ll definitely need some literary company during my down time. I’ve been battling over which of my own books to take, especially as I recently received a bundle from publishers last month.

However I wouldn’t be able to bring them home, so I’ll probably opt from some charity shop bargains donated by my lovely Nan! Also, I’m sure I won’t be able to resist a couple of airport purchases if I have a bit of pocket money to spare! 

I also have two e-reader apps on my phone, so as long as I have sufficient battery, I’ll be able to catch up on some of those e-book buys that I never seem to find the time to read. 

Whilst I’m there, I would love to see what Southeast Asia has in terms of book culture, and hopefully I’ll have some interesting articles other than reviews to post when I come back. I don’t know what the near future holds for me, especially as I am going completely out of my comfort zone, but it can only serve to broaden my horizons. 

Even if I don’t get to do much reading, my love of books will continue and I have plenty of great novels waiting for me when I get back. So this is not goodbye. This is just my last post for a while. I will be blogging again when I come home after what will hopefully have been a life-changing experience and hopefully with some of my own stories to tell!

Sunday, 1 March 2015

The Insect Farm by Stuart Prebble

It wasn’t just the arresting cover image that drew me towards reviewing this book (although the bloody butterfly on the Alma books addition is certainly quite striking). It was more the promise of a psychological drama centring around something as innocuous as an insect farm which really intrigued me. 

The focus of the story is on two brothers who are each consumed by an obsession. Jonathan is head over heels in love with his girlfriend Harriet, and he fights on a daily basis to control the jealously he feels when her beauty and talents are admired by more than just him. His older brother Roger’s obsession is the infect farm he has built from scratch in their parents shed which houses millions of tiny insects. 

Following the sudden and mysterious death of their parents, Jonathan’s life is altered forever when he is forced to return from university (away from his beloved Harriet)  to take on the full time care of Roger, who lives in his own little world. 

If that wasn’t earth-shattering enough, another violent death affects them and turns Jonathan’s regular routine upside down as he tries to save face with police and his acquaintances, all the while Roger seems oblivious to anything but his insect farm. 

A tense psychological drama was promised in the press release and it seriously surpassed all my expectations in its delivery. Jonathan and Roger were so well depicted and their relationship is a touching and multifaceted one that fuels the emotive side of the story. 

To me, they almost stopped being characters and became real people, with a genuine Jonathan accounting events from his (and Roger’s) lives. Being told from Jonathan’s perspective you really become absorbed in his feelings; the worry, the doubt, the desperation; which adds to the story even more.

With Roger’s character, the book touches on the issue of mental health. However I thought that rather than having a set message played out using the theme of mental health, the subject is more explored through Roger’s character, his interaction with the world around him and his relationship with his brother throughout the events that occur; all of which were tactfully and artfully portrayed in the prose. 

The more disturbing trials in the book are all cleverly plotted to the add tension, uncertainty and suspense that really made this book unputdownable. The Insect Farm is a brilliantly devised novel fraught with drama and originality that will captivate any reader willing to give this book a chance.