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Book Review: Westerdale by Morwenna J Holman

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Acknowledgements: Thanks to Olympia Publishers for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Plot Summary: Vengeance, aggression, malice, spite and family feuds ring out from the pages of this book; its story is set in the wild landscape of the northern moorlands. 

Heaton Grimshaw and his two children, each so different from each other, live through this tale under their father’s gripping and terrifying presence as he reigns supreme over the frightened inhabitants of nearby Scarshead and of the neighbouring family living at the far end of the valley.

His unhappy and vicious marriage spells tragedy, as the demons in his personality are revealed and take hold of his very being.

Source: Olympia Publishers

My Review:  One of the good things about the novel was its slight twist on the classic gothic novel Wuthering Heights. One of the differences between them is that romance doesn’t play a central role Westerdale. Another impressive difference is that the story gradually goes from a tale of intense cruelty to a tale of redemption.

Besides the storyline, the characters were enjoyable. Heaton is physically, emotionally, and sexually abusive. However, the gothic twist in the book made his character entertaining and eventually sympathetic.

Also, the secondary characters made reading the book more bearable when Heaton wasn’t.  For instance, Heaton’s wife Elizabeth has a brave and resilient spirit that was admirable.

Ironically, the influence of Wuthering Heights on the book was also a little overdone. While some of the twists were clever, there should have been more of them. There was one key plot point of the novel that was too predictable.

In addition, Heaton should have been developed more. There are some lines in the book that hinted at Heaton’s past, but it is never explained. It felt like the author was just using those lines to make Heaton more dramatic.

Despite its flaws, it was an engaging read. I recommend this book to any gothic literature fan.

Written by Serena Zola

September 27, 2013 at 3:25 PM

My Personal Book, Musician, and Movie of 2012

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Since the year is almost over and I’ve been seeing “Best -insert artistic medium here- of 2012” I’d figure I should go ahead and make one of my own. The best book, musician, and movie I have chosen are based on what I have posted this year on this blog. So, without further delay, let’s see my choices.

Favorite Book I’ve Read in 2012Wuthering Heights

Last year, I read a story in an American Lit I class called “Young Goodman Brown” by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Not only did it make me want to start reading gothic novels, but it also taught me the one thing I’ve come to appreciate about great literary characters: duality. Having a character with both redeeming and distasteful qualities, a public self and a private self,  shows how truly complex we are as human beings. While I have read other novels (in other genres, not just gothic literature) that have well-developed characters, Wuthering Heights is, to me, the best example of duality I’ve read this year. It is for that reason I loved Catherine and Heathcliff even though they aren’t goody-goody characters.

Best Musician I’ve Listened to in 2012: David Bowie

When I first stumbled onto David Bowie’s music, I was watching a tv special on the show Soul Train. When I saw the red-haired white dude dancing to a funky, catchy rhythm and singing “FAMEEE”, I decided to look up the song  “Fame” to hear it in it full and then look up his albums. Once I did the latter, I decided not to listen to anymore songs because I wasn’t sure I’d enjoy his work. His Ziggy Stardust persona was a bit weird and intimidating  for me.  The rest of his work seemed like something I wouldn’t relate to or like because it was all over the place when it came to its genres.

Then, I saw the film Bandslam and I was convinced to look up more of Bowie’s work, especially after hearing the song “Rebel Rebel” in the film’s soundtrack. Seeing how the main character of the film Will Burton connected to Bowie made me reconsider the impact Bowie’s music could have on me as a young person. After listening to Rebel Rebel and loving it, I went back and listened to the first song David Bowie got attention for: “Space Oddity”.  My mind was blown as soon as I heard the stylophone and Bowie’s ethereal vocals afterward.

The rest is history. I grew comfortable with Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust persona after Rebel Rebel and found a couple more Ziggy era songs I liked. Furthermore, I ended up appreciating his eclectic music style after finding songs with beautiful, awesome melodies and lyrics. Sometimes the lyrics were relatable, sometimes they weren’t. I realized that I enjoyed not only introspective lyrics, but also lyrics that make you think and  lyrics about different aspects of life. I didn’t enjoy a particular album or all of David Bowie’s work, but all the songs I personally liked demonstrated how amazing and talented David Bowie is.

Favorite Songs:

Space Oddity-


Rebel Rebel-

The Jean Genie-

As The World Falls Down-

Bring Me the Disco King (Lohner Remix)-

Favorite Movie I’ve Seen in 2012RENT

Sometimes, watching Jeopardy leads you to awesome things. I googled RENT after hearing a question about it on the show, and while the fact that it was a broadway musical turned me off (I hate show tune music) , but the fact that it featured rock music got me interested. I rented RENT and was surprised to see how much I enjoyed and connected to the movie. Some of characters in RENT (Roger, Mark, and Angel) were the artistic friends I always wanted. At the same time, the characters of Joanne and Collins provided a practical yet impulsive perspective that I also enjoyed.

I could relate to the character Roger, how he wanted to write one great song before he died and how he was afraid to get close to people. Furthermore, I admired how everyone had pride in what they stood for and what they loved doing; the “La Vie Boheme” scene in the Lite Cafe is my favorite part of the movie. The only thing I was disappointed about is that I was too young to experience the original broadway show in its prime.

Written by Serena Zola

December 7, 2012 at 3:20 PM

Book Review: Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

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Mr. Lockwood is the new tenant of Thrushcross Grange. Living nearby is the harsh enigmatic landlord Heathcliff in a place known as   Wuthering Heights. While visiting Heathcliff and staying overnight, Mr. Lockwood stumbles upon an old journal that belongs to a woman named Catherine Earnshaw. Later that night, Mr. Lockwood sees Catherine’s ghost begging him, “Let me in! Let me in!” Once Heathcliff finds out, he has an emotional fit of grief. Disturbed yet curious, Mr. Lockwood asks the servant Ms. Dean about Heathcliff’s history and is told a tale of love and vengeance.

One of the best things about this book is the complexity of the main characters Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff. Of the two, Heathcliff is  the most intriguing. He is connected to everything and everyone including Wuthering Heights, the families, the weather, and the novel’s themes. Heathcliff is vindictive, selfish, and cold. Yet, he is also a little forgiving, compassionate, and emotional when it comes to Catherine Earnshaw, the one person he loves and cares about.

With Catherine Earnshaw, she is harder to feel sorry for than Heathcliff. For the most part, she is melodramatic and childish. However, this is only her outward appearance. On the inside, there is a level of introspection that only deep or critical thinkers will notice and understand. These moments are seen when Catherine voices them aloud. Most people remember Catherine for lines like, “My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath: a source of little visible delight, but necessary.” I do too, but a line that made me finally pity Catherine hit me hard: “I’m wearying to escape into that glorious world, and to always be there: not seeing it dimly through tears and yearning through the walls of an aching heart but really with it, and in it.” It was this line that made me think, “If only Catherine Earnshaw had Jane Eyre’s courage to always speak what was on her heart.”

Another powerful aspect of the book are its themes. Some include vengeance, social class prejudice, and seclusion. The fact that they were shown through actions and not simply told through words made them memorable. My favorite themes are what I call the value of a  person’s status vs the value of a person’s soul. It is these  that form the central argument of the book. Is one worth more than the other? Or, should the two balance each other out?

The last bit of praise is for Emily Bronte’s writing style. Sometimes, certain lines like the ones already mentioned were poetic and beautiful. Other times, they were thoughtful. A line that rings true for the book and real life is, “We do sometimes pity creatures that have none of the feeling for themselves or others.”

Overall, Wuthering Heights is a compelling novel. I recommend it to any gothic literature fan or anyone who’s ever wondered why people turn out the way they do.

Similar Book Reviews:

The Phantom of the Opera

Jane Eyre

Written by Serena Zola

October 19, 2012 at 7:44 PM

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