A review of the Audible audio dramatisation of Amok This review first appeared on Addicted to Media.
Have you ever considered what it would take to makeA review of the Audible audio dramatisation of Amok This review first appeared on Addicted to Media.
Have you ever considered what it would take to make a renowned psychologist fly off the handle and run amok, endangering both his own life and that of others? Early one morning, Jan May storms into a Berlin radio station with a bag full of guns and body bags. He takes several people hostage including the station’s most popular presenter and several members of the station’s fan club. Jan has but one demand that he broadcasts to millions of riveted listeners, that somebody bring his fiancée to the station to see him. There is just one problem: May’s fiancée died in a terrible accident several months ago.
Faced with an already impossible situation, Jan May ups the stakes and decides to play a twisted version of the station’s popular contest Cash Call. Under May’s rules, he will shoot a hostage unless listeners answer the phone with the slogan “I listen to 101.5FM, now set a hostage free”.
The Berlin SEK (the special response unit) call in renowned criminal psychologist and negotiator Ira Samin to deal with May. Normally that would be a good idea as Ira is the best in her field but Ira has been in an alcohol-induced state of despair since the suicide of her daughter several months back.
As the day progresses and the situation spirals out of control, it becomes ever more apparent that a massive conspiracy is at play. With the fate of the hostages at stake and millions of Berliners listening in, can Ira save the day?
Amok is a novel by German author Sebastian Fitzek and the second of his novels to be dramatised for the English-speaking market by Audible. Like The Child, which I reviewed last year, Amok is expertly narrated by Robert Glenister (Spooks, Hustle).
Amok stars Adrian Lester as Jan May, Natasha McElhone as Ira Samin, Rafe Spall as Oliver Götz and Brendan Coyle as the evil crime boss Schuwalow.
The production of Amok is superb and listening to the audio dramatisation is as nail-biting as watching a television show. Together with the actors’ lines we hear background noise and a dramatic musical score. The suspense is non-stop and it is difficult to stop listening.
I want to say something like "Adrian Lester is superb as Jan May" but let’s be honest, is there anything Adrian Lester does that isn’t excellent? He is absolutely menacing in his role as Jan May and there were scenes in the story that simply made my blood run cold.
Likewise, Natasha McElhone and Rafe Spall were excellent as Ira and Oliver and you could feel the rapport between them. The star of the cast would be Brendan Coyle in his role as the key antagonist Schuwalow (at least that’s how I think it is spelled). Brendan has a great voice for audio and I must admit to playing his scenes back more than once just to hear his voice again. If Adrian Lester is convincing as the maniacal but desperate May, Coyle is even better as the morally bereft criminal mastermind.
Spoiled as we were by the production of The Child, I had high expectations for Amok and even these were exceeded. Sebastian Fitzek has an outstanding ability to weave together complex tales of betrayal, depravity and greed. Amok is simply brilliant and I would recommend that everybody rush out and listen to it....more
When blacksmith apprentice Fletcher is gifted with an ancient book containing a magical spell, he summThis review first appeared on Addicted to Media.
When blacksmith apprentice Fletcher is gifted with an ancient book containing a magical spell, he summons a demon from another world which should be impossible for someone of his class. His achievement sets in motion a series of events where Fletcher is falsely accused of a crime and must flee the town of his birth and go on the run. When his abilities are subsequently discovered, Fletcher is recruited into Vocans Military Academy, an elite school where battlemages are trained for war on the frontlines against the Orc foe.
Constantly on the lookout for his pursuers, Fletcher must soon learn who his allies are among the fellow battlemages in the academy. With days filled with lessons and free time with visits to the local town Corcillum, the days leading up to the end of term tournament fly by with plenty of sabotage, misdirection and subterfuge. Will Fletcher discover the power within him in time to outwit those that scheme against him?
The Novice is the first book in the Summoner series and the debut novel by London-based writer Taran Matharu. Matharu wrote the book on writing platform Wattpad and amassed 5.5 million reads before the trilogy was sold in auctions around the world. Out this month, the trilogy is set to be translated into 11 languages.
Fans of the Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter and His Dark Materials series will feel very comfortable in the world of Taran Matharu’s Hominum Empire. Beings such as orcs, dwarves and elves require little description or introduction because we’re already familiar with them and spells and wand work are already an expected part of the school curriculum. It was Lyra’s world of the His Dark Materials universe that The Novice seemed to draw on most significantly. Demons, the permeable veil between worlds and even a form of the Magisterium find a way into the book.
Despite the premises not being entirely original, Matharu does tell a good story which gets ever more exciting as the book progresses. There are themes of prejudice, exploitation and class inequality and the author is certainly not above taking a jab or two at the hypocrisy of the ruling classes. Fletcher’s friendship with Othello is authentic and I enjoyed the chance he takes to prove himself to the dwarves. The book reaches its pinnacle in the end of year tournament which was both riveting and extremely well-written.
I give Summoner: The Novice (Book 1) an excellent four out of five stars and will certainly be reading the next books in the series. To date, Matharu has written two prequels to The Novice: Summoner: Origins (Book 0) and Summoner: Rory (Book 0.5) will be available shortly....more
Gaza, 2014. Following the kidnap and murder of three Israeli youths, the IDF embarked on a seven week campaign against Gaza. In that time, over 2,000 Gazans were killed, most of them civilians and most of them children, while tens of thousands were injured. Hospitals, schools and houses were demolished and half a million Gazans were displaced.
The Gazan conflict divided people like no other conflict. Across social media, timelines were filled with people trying to draw attention to the devastation and destruction in Gaza while pro-Zionists asked what else they could do in the face of continuing Hamas aggression.
With access to Gaza notoriously controlled and restricted, there was limited reporting on the ground, scant consideration of everyday Palestinians who were living in a state of terror.
Edited by Vijay Prashad and featuring a host of writers, poets, essayists and activists, Letters to Palestine: Writers Respond to War and Occupation attempts to give a human face to that struggle.
Reading this collection with a desire to learn more about the conflict from a Palestinian point of view, one might expect little more than anti-Israeli propaganda and rhetoric. Letters to Palestine is nothing of the sort. It is an earnest collection of essays, poems and diary excerpts that seeks to understand both the conflict and history of Palestine.
In his essay 'Bad Laws', Teju Cole talks about how what he terms 'cold violence' is exacted through a series of laws, by-laws and regulations that are all perfectly legal under Israeli law. Based as they are in restrictions on freedom and movement, he notes that these laws are in contravention with international standards and conventions. He mentions Sheikh Jarrah where Palestinians are slowly losing their permanent residency in East Jerusalem, where the right of return applies to Jews in East Jerusalem but not Palestinians.
"The historical suffering of Jewish people is real, but is no less real than, and does not in any way justify, the present oppression of Palestinians by Israeli Jews" – Teju Cole, ‘Bad Laws’, Letters to Palestine
In an excerpt from her 'Travel Diary' Noura Erakat begins by describing her anger and anti-Israeli sentiment but over the course of her journey to Palestine begins to develop a more nuanced position. She brings up the subject of privileged Palestinians, those who have done very well out of occupation and observes that not all Palestinians are good-hearted, not all Israelis 'evil'. While capturing the atmosphere in Palestine during her visit, Erakat mentions the work of Zochrot, an Israeli non-profit organisation whose aim is to raise awareness of the Palestinian Nakba and of New Profit who work towards the demilitarisation of Israel. Spanning over eleven days in May 2013, the diaries give a unique snapshot of a moment in Palestinian time.
"Israeli settler colonialism, apartheid and occupation should not cease because Palestinians are good and Israelis are bad"- Noura Erakat, ‘Travel Diary’, Letters to Palestine
Nalja Said shares her 'Diary of a Gaza War, 2014' as a Palestinian living in America during the conflict. Intimate and painfully honest, Said's entries show her worry and despair for her loved ones in Gaza.
"If you think that Palestinians all hate Jews and are rejoicing in the deaths of those three boys (Naftali Fraenkel, Gilad Shaer, Eyal Yifrah), then you are a racist. That's all I have to say. As my dad used to say, ‘No one has a monopoly on suffering’" – Nalja Said, 'Diary of a Gaza War, 2014', Letters to Palestine
"The boy who was killed was a cousin of my dear friends... You who are reading this are now two degrees from the murdered Palestinian - a child killed in revenge" – Nalja Said, 'Diary of a Gaza War, 2014', Letters to Palestine
In 'Below Zero: In Gaza Before the Latest War', Ben Ehrenreich reminds us of the appalling conditions of loss, devastation, poverty and wretchedness in Gaza even before the war.
Interspersed throughout the collection is a series of heart-breaking, eye-opening poetry. Poems tell of Kafkaesque experiences of denied entry and the soul-destroying set up of the checkpoints. Notable entries include 'Until It Isn't' by Remi Kanazi, 'Afterwords' by Sinan Antoon and 'Running Orders' by Lena Khalaf Tuffaha.
"Prove you're human/ prove you stand on two legs/ Run" - Lena Khalaf Tuffaha, 'Running Orders', Letters to Palestine
The last part of the collection is dedicated to an examination of the Palestinian liberation movement in America and its links to the civil rights movement. For the most part, this was too US-centric to be of specific interest to foreign readers but there were some interesting parallels to be drawn to the South African and worldwide anti-Apartheid movement.
In 'Yes, I Said, "National Liberation"', Robin D G Kelly notes the intersection with Black rights and Ferguson, how the black civil rights movement moved from supporting Israel to recognising the injustices there.
It would be impossible to capture the scope of this collection here. Vijay Prashad has done an excellent job in curating a collection of short, powerful pieces that is each powerful in its own right. I would highly recommend this collection to anyone seeking to know more about the situation in Gaza both before and during the conflict last year. ...more
There is no doubt about it, the Originals are the best thing to come out of the hit CW series The VampThis review first appeared on Addicted to Media.
There is no doubt about it, the Originals are the best thing to come out of the hit CW series The Vampire Diaries and fans were thrilled when they got their own show. Gorgeous, sardonic and deadly, viewers can't seem to get enough of the Original three vampires Niklaus, Elijah and Rebekah Mikaelson.
The problem is that there is so much to the Originals story and fans want to know about their time in New Orleans in the early 18th century just as much as their lives in the present day.
To this end, a brand new trilogy of books is being published by Hodder Children's Books in association with Alloy Entertainment. The Originals: The Rise is the first novel in the Originals trilogy and is written by Julie Plec, creator and executive producer of the CW series.
We meet the Original vampires nine years after their arrival in New Orleans after fleeing Europe to escape their father's murderous advances. The Mikaelson siblings have been living in the shadows, forbidden from owning property and bound by a promise to the witches of the fledgling city that they will not create any new vampires.
Their life of relative obscurity comes to an abrupt end when Klaus meets Vivianne Lescheres, rare child of a witch and werewolf and fiancée to the son of the most powerful werewolf in town. While Klaus pursues an impossible prize, Elijah slips under the radar to secure a home for the family and Rebekah's attempt to raise an army land her the welcome attentions of French Captain Eric Moquet.
One thing you can count on with the Original Vampires is that nothing ever goes as planned for the Mikaelson siblings. Just as they begin to rise up in New Orleans, everything goes horrible awry.
The Originals: The Rise is a lot of fun to read and as a fan of the show, it was great to be able to spend hours absorbed in the world of the Originals. The book provides a lot of insight into Rebekah and Klaus's motives and what made them the vampires they are in present day.
Elijah is portrayed as being a lot more straightforward in his motives and intentions which is a pity because we get far less insight into this brooding and dangerous vampire. I would have liked to see more of that side of him coming through.
Nevertheless, that is his character and apart from that, my only real complaint is that we didn't see any of Kol in the book. Then again, my one enduring complaint throughout the whole of the The Vampire Diaries and The Originals series has been that Kol was killed off and hasn't been somehow resurrected.
I give The Originals: The Rise an excellent four out of five stars and would recommend to fans of The Vampire Diaries and The Originals .
I will certainly be reading the next two books in the trilogy The Originals: The Loss (due out this month) and The Originals: The Resurrection (due out in May)....more
Normal, unremarkable, invisible. There is a killer on the loose in England but you won't see him coming because you won't even notice he is there at all. That is until he falls in love with a checkout girl and begins making fatal errors, of course.
Normal is the debut novel by Graeme Cameron and is due for release on the Mira Books imprint on 31 March 2015. It is a small town England version of Dexter or Silence of the Lambs, told in the first person narrative of a nameless killer.
This is where the book falls into difficulty. Without the cold, objective glare of a profiler, we're given very little insight into the killer's motives beyond what he tells us and he isn’t the most forthright of narrators.
What actually happens is that the reader is subjected to the misogynistic inner dialogue of a killer as he lures unsuspecting women into his van and murders them immediately, or abducts them, holds them captive and terrorises them before he releases them into the woods only to hunt them down and kill them.
There is no pattern, nothing links his victims, we’re told little about his motivations beyond that his father wasn’t particularly nice and his mother abandoned him as a child. It could be that this lack of structure to the serial killers actions belies a lack of research on the part of the author but it might be simply an opinion that not all sociopaths follow a set pattern.
What did seem unlikely to me were the actions of the police and the manner in which they accumulated evidence about the murders and disappearances. Firstly, there are CCTV cameras along just about every stretch of canal in England as was evidenced in the disappearance of Alice Gross and Chris Brahney. It is possible but unlikely that the entire events taking place in the book alongside the canal would not have been captured, at least in part, on CCTV.
The police become hellbent on pinning the crimes on the killer in Normal but at no point whatsoever do they present a shred of evidence beyond our narrator owning a white van combined with a healthy dose of the great old police stereotype: gut feeling. Again, that might work in a novel set in any other country but roads in England are teeming with CCTV and average speed cameras and it is highly likely that the police would have had a significant amount of evidence at their disposal including the exact number plates of the van they were looking for.
The final nail in the coffin for me was how unlikely the characters’ actions were in Normal. The narrator paints his hostage Erica as morally bereft and quite insane by the end of the book but no amount of Stockholm syndrome would even come close to explaining her actions. Likewise, the detective Fairy would never have colluded with him, in a manner real or apparent. He was losing out to tokenism, he would have dug his heals in and solved the damn case. And finally, Green would never have switched back and forth between mothering him and essentially letting him get away with murder.
A last word on character development. We’re lead to believe that all of this mayhem ensues when the killer falls in love with a checkout girl but ultimately, she falls in love with him. Nothing about his actions suggests anything further than distraction and he certainly doesn’t grow as much the author would like you to believe.
It's always disturbing when a book has a string of positive reviews to find that you are the sole dissenting voice. On the one hand, I commend the author for writing such a vile, hateful character but on the other, I'll probably stick to Twitter next time I want to browse the innermost thoughts of a sociopathic misogynist.
It occurs to me that Normal is probably a spoof and I probably just didn’t get it but from the cover commendation by Lee Child, all appearances were that this was a serious attempt at crime fiction. Besides, there are far better researched, more intelligent ways to write comedy.
It's strange to think that I disliked the first chapter of this book so much that I almost wrote it off as appealing chick-lit and stopped reading it.It's strange to think that I disliked the first chapter of this book so much that I almost wrote it off as appealing chick-lit and stopped reading it. The deeper I got into the book, the more consumed I was by it and I've read most of it in the past 24 hours. Really good. ...more
I felt like a good, old-fashioned scary story and this was it. This is a perfect book to read in winter time - I loved curling up under a blanket andI felt like a good, old-fashioned scary story and this was it. This is a perfect book to read in winter time - I loved curling up under a blanket and reading while the blizzard raged away in the book. ...more
This review has nothing to do with the book and everything to do with why I rated it 3 stars. Possibly should have read this before it exploded. It'sThis review has nothing to do with the book and everything to do with why I rated it 3 stars. Possibly should have read this before it exploded. It's always hard for a popular book to live up to its hype. And possibly shouldn't have read this while I'm in denial about my dad's cancer....more
Hmmm, kind of wish I knew this was a YA novel before I read it. I was looking for a truly terrifying horror novel and got teenagers. Now don't get meHmmm, kind of wish I knew this was a YA novel before I read it. I was looking for a truly terrifying horror novel and got teenagers. Now don't get me wrong, I adore YA fiction but it's not what I wanted here. ...more