The Pied Piper of Digital Marketing by Simba Mudonzvo

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The Pied Piper by Simba Mudonzvo offers a startling new perspective on digital marketing. Fresh concepts in the industry are explored in a way that is both imaginative and engaging: through a series of analogies drawn between marketing and the mythical world of the Piper.

The story is told through an extensive analogy that connects the world of the Pied Piper to digital marketing, in a subtle and unique way. This merging of fiction and non-fiction was very successful, although I think that Simba could have benefited from making some of the finer points of his analogy more explicit. The book was a fun read and I was left more entertained than enlightened, although I did learn a lot along the way.

The fictionality of the short story was something that I really enjoyed. The characters are depicted in great detail, each equipped with their own witty dialogue, a personal history and a unique outlook on life. I would have liked to have seen a bit more depth from some of the characters; the Piper in particular took hold of my imagination and I would have liked to learn more about him, such as his inner thoughts and feelings.

Simba’s writing style is very self-aware and some of his metaphors are stunning, with unusual connections being drawn between the tenor and the grounds. Overall, this short story was very easy to read, although there are a few moments when the wealth of imagery became a bit oppressive, and as a reader I found it occasionally difficult to trace the plot. That said, in the few moments that were like this, I was able to enjoy the effects of the words themselves, and appreciate the apparent joy Simba takes in experimenting with sentence structure.

This is a brand-new take on digital marketing and one that employs myth in a thought-provoking way. I would recommend this short story to anyone who wants to learn more about new concepts in digital marketing, whilst at the same time, enjoying a riveting read with some great characters and a plot full of twists and turns!

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‘A Parallel Trust’ by James Stoddah

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‘A Parallel Trust’ is a thrilling mystery novel by master of suspense, James Stoddah.

What I liked most about this story were the characters. Although the plot was intricate and original, the characters served to flesh it out and really bring it to life. Villains were perfectly crafted. Side characters were given wicked one-liners. Even the classic parent figures were free from the confines of stereotype and caricature that usually clutter YA literature.

But the star of the show was undoubtedly Aril, our teenage protagonist. Armed with his motorcycle, intelligence and charm, Aril drove the story forwards at a break-neck pace. Stoddah has created a hero who is wonderfully realistic. Every single one of Aril’s actions and thought processes sounded genuine, which helped to ground some of the more fantastical elements of the plot in reality. This basis in the real world also helped readers to connect with the various romantic sub-plots, adding another layer of emotional depth to an already complex and detailed tale.

Aside from the characters, the novel is also constructed in an interesting manner. The story follows a traditional treasure-hunt premise, complete with several alarming twists and turns. The reader is invited in to decipher the clues with Aril but, of course, there are still moments when we readers realise we aren’t quite as clever as we thought. Prepare for exciting plot developments and some character crossovers from earlier Stoddah novels!

All in all, I would definitely recommend this book. Written in accessible, though riveting prose, I am sure that it will be a favourite with teenagers everywhere.

Deadly States by Nick Clark

This book is the second instalment of the explosive Jack Malaney series, and I think it was a tremendous success. The story follows straight on from the first novel – “The Baltic Triangle” – but there are brand new dangers, brand new faces and brand new action sequences to take one’s breath away.

Usually in literature, the middle book in a trilogy is identified by its vast amounts of character development. Clark certainly didn’t disappoint. In “Deadly States”, readers are given the opportunity to learn more about the protagonist: Scottish superspy Jack Malaney. Through the use of extensive flashbacks and snippets of Jack’s astonishing history, we learnt about Jack’s ethics, morals, fears and even love life. His past is intriguing, but even more intriguing for the reader interested in character development is the way Jack reacts to his dramatic past. The thoughts and feelings from the protagonist were invaluable in this book; the way Jack was explored as a character definitely made the story intoxicating to read.

What really sets this book apart from other spy novels is the unorthodox plot. All the loose ends from the first book were tied up in “Deadly States”, and characters (as well as a few unfinished storylines) from “The Baltic Triangle” leaked into its sequel. This unusual tactic of having the first book blur into the second really works to Clark’s advantage. It’s different, it’s new, it’s thought-provoking – especially for readers bored with the mindless violence usually found in the spy genre.

As well as having a memorable plot and buckets of character development, this book was fraught with history. It provided a startling insight into 1990s South Africa and was factually interesting. For once, history did not equate to boredom! Conspiracy theories and outlandish, villainous plots played a heavy role in this novel, and Clarke explored the intense political themes of freedom, dictatorship and democracy with a masterful ease.

“Deadly States” is a definite step up from “The Baltic Triangle”. The prose (when it is mistake free) flowed very well. The action scenes were explosive, the dialogue, in some places, humorous. Aside from the numerous typos, I can see nothing bad about this book, its characters or its convoluted plot. And the ending, of course, was an absolute shocker. I would thoroughly recommend this series.51-ZTvf+sbL__BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-67,22_AA300_SH20_OU02_

Eve and Adam by Michael Grant and Katherine Applegate

I read this book because I am a fan of Michael Grant. His ground breaking, shell shocking, mind shattering style of writing is an absolute joy to read and I loved his teen fiction series “The FAYZ”. When I plucked “Eve and Adam” off the shelves of Waterstones, I picked it up not because it had a cool title or a pretty cover, but because it had two words printed on the front: Michael Grant. When a book comes adorned with those two, special words, you know that it’s going to be one hell of a read. Hopefully, it’ll be a rollercoaster of thrills and outlandish adventure. Maybe it’ll be a haunting, blood spattered romp through a dystopian land. If you’re really lucky, it will be all of the above.

I had high hopes for Eve and Adam. Really, I did. It had all the makings of an excellent novel: a masterful author, an intriguing storyline and a perfectly marvellous opening sentence. I am thinking of an apple when the streetcar hits and my leg severs and my ribs crumble and my arm is no longer an arm but something unrecognizable, wet and red. Great, right? It compels you to read on, find out more, unravel the story until all the cliffhangers are solved and the book is no more.

So after that whopper of an opening, I settled back to enjoy the read. It had to get better from there, right? Wrong. As it turned out, this book was a massive disappointment. For every one thing that succeeded, two things failed horribly. Allow me to elaborate. The prose was amusing and fast paced – classic Michael Grant. But this enjoyable narrative was overshadowed by the fact that the characters were uninteresting and, frankly, dull as dishwater. This is probably because the whole book felt like it was rushed and hurried. There was nowhere near enough character background, nowhere near enough detail. And the ending! It was so fleeting I almost missed the climax completely. The subplots were left unresolved, the protagonists were unceremoniously dumped in a nonsensical conclusion and the happy ending seemed rather forced.

Overall, I can say with a reasonable amount of confidence that I enjoyed this book. Yes, it was a bit weird in some places and a bit iffy in others, but it was certainly readable. However, that does not make it a good book. The characters were two dimensional, the ending was sloppy and the main focus of the story, the religious philosophy/ conundrum of Eve and Adam, had been entirely forgotten.
Michael Grant, not your best work I’m afraid.
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The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed out of the Window and Disappeared (Jonas Jonasson) Review

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I read this book as my “morning book”. The “morning book” is the book I read for about ten minutes every morning over my shreddies and coffee, so that I can avoid talking to my brother. Nothing against my brother – I love the little guy to bits, but I’m grumpy in the mornings. Anyway, the books I choose to be “morning books” are usually classics. My shreddies have seen The Great Gatsby, The Prisoner of Zenda, Du Picq’s Battle Studies and many others; I choose these books for the morning because they are usually quite hard on the eyes. Enjoyable, yes, but not exactly easy reading for a sleepy teenager.

I’m not quite sure how the Hundred Year Old Man ended up as a “morning book”, but I’m very glad that it did. For the weeks that I read it (morning books take a while) it was a little ray of sunshine in my life. This book is funny, it’s chock full of historical references and the main character, Allan Karlsson is a loveable dude.

Half of the book follows Allan’s story from the moment he breaks out of the Old People’s Home. He gets into all sorts of mischeif, makes lots of new, unlikely friends and at one point is hunted by the police for three counts of murder!

The other half of the book is about Allan’s life leading up to his hundreth birthday. Allan is a Swede who is 100% politically blind – which is why he ends up designing the atom bomb and giving it to both the West AND the Soviets…

I really recommend this book. It is an international road trip through the 20th century and it made me laugh at every twist and turn. The pages were sunny, the characters were fresh and reading it has made me realise that Sweden is actually quite a cool place to be. Long live Allan Karlsson, the vodka drinking Swede!

A Game of Thrones (George RR Martin) Review

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This book is the first in the series “A Song of Ice and Fire”, and I enjoyed every sentence. Where to begin? This book is colossal. It is also colossally AMAZING. It is 760 pages of power games, witty comments, high tension, sad moments and fantastic description that practically explodes off the page. It is too big to cover in the normal review format, so I’m going to break it down:

Favourite character: My favourite character is Littlefinger, without a doubt. His real name is Petyr Baelish (I STILL have no idea how to pronounce that!) and he is the master of coin in the council of King Robert Baratheon. I like Littlefinger because he is, quite frankly, a legend. He is strikingly similar to Lord Sugar’s aides in the Apprentice: he sits in the corner, watches the action and makes comments about it. But unlike Lord Sugar’s aides, Littlefinger’s comments are actually funny. This guy quips ALL the time. He lives to make witty remarks. My favourite Littlefinger scene is where he is leading the King’s Hand, Ned Stark, to his “chambers”. After 30 minutes of walking, Ned finally asks, “Where are we going? This isn’t the way to my chambers.” To which Littlefinger replies; “I know. We’re going to a brothel.”
“Good heavens, man, why?”
“To see your wife.”

Favourite direwolf: This may seem like an odd heading, but the main family in the book, the Starks, all have pet wolves. This is insanely cute when reading, but I imagine that it wouldn’t be so cute in real life. Even the three year old, baby Rickon Stark, got a direwolf, with the strict instructions that he must raise it all by himself. (Why…?) It’s no surprise that “Shaggydog” is a bit of a savage beast…
My favourite wolf is probably Ghost. He is the wolf of Jon Snow, Ned Stark’s bastard son, and, like Jon, Ghost is a bit of an outcast. He has white fur instead of black, but he is also incredibly well trained and intelligent.

Favourite name: Everybody in the fantastic, almost-3D-world that George RR Martin has created has an exciting name. There’s Bran, Sansa and Arya Stark, Eddard, Daenerys and Jory. Viserys, Joffrey and Theon, Stannis, Sandor and Gregor… The list goes on. My friend said that her mother wanted to rename her three year old son Jorah, after Ser Jorah of Mormont. But the best name, in my opinion, is Shagga son of Dolf. He goes around threatening to cut off certain body parts and feed them to the goats.

A Game of Thrones is a rich tapestry woven by a master storyteller. It turns dusty power struggles and politics into action and excitement. It has dozens of well rounded characters that are so real that I, the reader, feel like I know every single one of them. Everybody who reads Game of Thrones falls in love with it. And everybody reads Game of Thrones. Just the other week I was doing a maths test when the following question came up: “Bran got 5/12 in a maths test, Arya got 45% and Sansa got 4/7. Who did the best?” I nearly fell out of my chair. Game of Thrones characters in a maths test?! This book has seeped into the fabric of our very WORLD and I really recommend that you read it.

Light by Michael Grant

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Light is the last installment in the series of 6 books by Michael Grant. I love these books. I’ve been reading them for years. They have plagued my thoughts, given me nightmares, kept me up all night reading and sparked countless conversations with friends as well as strangers. As far as chilling yound adult fiction goes, these books are the bees knees.
But let’s talk about Light. Light has black pages and a black cover, so I always felt like I was holding an obdurate black brick rather than a hardback. This thing looked more like a gothic book of spells than a thriller, but don’t let that fool you. Light is the ultimate climax to a brilliant series. It is fast paced and ingenious. It has hot blooded characters and blood soaked scenes of gore. It has death and destruction – but also sporadic happy scenes and deep, philosophical insights.
The story is mostly focused around Gaia, the strange daughter of mutant teens Caine and Diana. She was possessed and completely swamped by the monstrous creature known as the gaiaphage at birth, and now she is hell bent on killing everyone within the FAYZ. You know, just your typical little girl. Our heroes, School Bus Sam and his evil twin Caine, as well as Astrid the Genius, her autistic, god-like brother Pete, the gay Mexican Edilio and other assorted, mutant children must fight and kill her before she destroys the FAYZ then moves onto the world itself. It’s the endgame.
This book is a dark, action packed roller coaster that left me breathless. It discusses the arrogance of humanity, the insignificance of race and sexuality in a whole new society and explores the connotations of a world without rules or adults. I loved it. It made me cry. It made me laugh. It made me think.