The Ascension of Greenville – Anna Pattle – Review

Posted in Books, Reviews, Three and a Half Star
on May 6, 2021
the ascension of Greenville

Thanks to Helen Lewis at LiterallyPR for a copy of The Ascension of Greenville in exchange for a fair review. This post may contain affiliate links, meaning if you purchase something through one of these links I’ll earn a small commission at no cost to you.

The town of Greenville, Utah, is dominated by the Septosect religious cult and its leader Harrison who has ambitions for increasing his religious control over the area. Living amidst the threat of a fatal virus, which could take a whole horde of people at a time, the members of the cult look to the Septosect’s ideals as a way of life, hoping that a divine entity will spare them from their doomsday.

They are trapped by Harrison’s reminder that leaving the town would mean divine condemnation. Deception about the virus, fake news and religious fervour keep the community isolated, but the death of a young girl leads to suspicions over the motives of Harrison. Living amidst the virus makes life feel desperate for Greenville’s community members, who feel that each passing month is precious but futile. The cult members must choose to believe if the seven principles of the Septosect will lead them to the truth, or to their death.

The Ascension of Greenville is an interesting novella by Anna Prattle. It examines a cult who uses the threat of a deadly virus to keep their members under control. At first nothing seems out of the ordinary, but slowly, you come to realise that things are not what they seem, and that those who proport to want to keep the community safe are the very ones who are doing it harm. 

Told by snapshots, the reader is offered glimpses into the Septosect’s world, and many questions are left unanswered. The reader is required to join the dots and understand the motivations of the different characters, to piece together something of an understanding of the state of play.  

It is a very timely novella, playing as it does on the notion of control that a virus – or threat from a virus – brings. It deals with heavy themes and explores individual motivations and thoughts. I enjoyed the multiple perspectives with with some who were opportunistic, whilst others were just trying to survive. 

There is no doubt that Anna can write. Although a short book, she set herself an ambitious task of writing in a number of different character’s voices, without much time to establish whose perspective you are hearing. By and large she pulls this off, making it an enjoyable read. In general her prose style is very accomplished, especially considering her age. I certainly wish I had the wherewithal to write something of this standard when I was completing my ALevels.

There is no sense of resolution in The Ascension of Greenville, which is, I think, deliberate. However, there is something about the novella which feels slightly incomplete. There is so much more to the story to be told that this feels like the skeleton on which to build a full-length novel around. What is there is very good and enjoyable – and of course there is an art in what is left unsaid. I do think each character’s story deserved a little more time dedicated to it. There needed to be more of a central pull to moved the plot along, and a less skips in time to demonstrate how the situation escalated. (It is hard not to give away spoilers, so bear with!). I enjoyed what was there a lot – I would have just liked it to be a full length novel!

Overall, I give it three and a half stars out of five. The Ascension of Greenville is well written, intriguing enough to pull me in, and I would like to read more from Anna. I just think this needed a bit more to tie it all together to make it a complete story.

The Existence of Amy – Lana Grace Riva – Review

Posted in Reviews, Three Star
on January 31, 2021
existence of Amy Lana grace riva

Thank you to Lana Grace Riva for gifting me a copy of The Existence of Amy in exchange for an honest review.

Amy has a normal life. That is, if you were to go by a definition of ‘no obvious indicators of peculiarity’, and you didn’t know her very well. She has good friends, a good job, a nice enough home. This normality, however, is precariously plastered on top of a different life. A life that is Amy’s real life. The only one her brain will let her lead. 

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I started reading The Existence of Amy. I’ve never read anything quite like it before. I read it very quickly over a couple of days, which tells me something. It’s not a perfect read, but it’s good enough that I kept reading.

This is clearly a very personal book, which gives insight into what it’s like to try and live ‘a normal life’ with OCD. Amy, on the surface of it, manages to live her life very normally. She has a job, she gets on with it and she has friends and colleagues who like her. However, it is very soon apparent that something isn’t quite right. 

Amy is an interesting character. We’re told the story through her eyes. This gives us real insight into how she has to do things in order to live normally. She is at times incredibly frustrating. Her mental illness defines so much of her, that as a reader you want to hug her or shake her and say ‘It’s okay’. She has put limits around her life and simultaneously relies on, and tried to push away, those nearest to her.  

Amy is extraordinarily lucky with some of the people she surrounds herself with. They really do save her and this was lovely to see. They are endlessly patient and endlessly try to rally her round – even to something as simple as after work drinks. I think this was valuable in showing the reader what is required to be friends with someone with such a debilitating mental health illness. 

It isn’t a plot-heavy book. The focus is very much on Amy’s introspection rather than any huge plot development. This will tick some people’s boxes and not others. I found myself wishing a little more happened, or we got to see a bit more of Amy’s active recovery, but that’s a very minor comment. 

Some of the characters could be a bit more fleshed out. They – including Amy – were a little dulled out. I wondered if this was intentional to reflect the state of mind of the protagonist, but it does make the novel feel a little superficial in parts. There are also some clunky phrases and rather a reliance on telling rather than showing. There were a few things skipped over entirely (again, this may have been to detail the way Amy’s mind works). The ending felt a little rushed in comparison to the rest of the book. 

It does feel like a relatively truthful and informative account of going through like with OCD, and I think this is where sometimes it falls down a bit as a fiction book. Overall, I enjoyed The Existence of Amy – but I’m not sure it is one I would re-read.

3/5 stars.

Download your free book report templates

Posted in Downloads, Printables
on January 24, 2021
book report downloads

It’s a new year, a new lockdown and well… there’s not much else to say is there?A lot of people have been busy homeschooling and so, I’ve put together a few book report templates for you to use.

I originally made a couple of templates for my niece in the summer. After I posted one of the unicorn ones on twitter it got some good reactions. (I mean, it’s unicorns, what’s not to like?). She’s been enjoying using them since and so, after a bit of tweaking I’ve got them ready to share with you!

I’ve created two that are free to download. Get yours by clicking on the pictures below! If you use them, I’d love to see the results – Please share with me either here or via Twitter. And, if you have any requests for other themes, just use the contact me form and I’ll see what I can do.

Free book report downloads

Book report
Book worm

They’re based on the sort of thing my niece was reading at the time, so they’ve got space for the title, author and illustrator as well as a few notes about why you liked the book – which hopefully you did.

I know as a child I used to love writing book reviews and they’ve certainly kept her busy, so I hope you like them!

I’ve also created a number of variations which I’ve added to my shop. I’ve linked them below so you can see if there are any which take your fancy.

Alien Themed
hero theme book report
Hero themed
monster book report
Monster themed
unicorn book report
Unicorn themed

Adventure Themed
Dino themed
space book report
Space themed

All of these designs can be customised with your child’s name (or your name if it’s you that is using them, we all need a few more fun things in our lives right now). Just contact me and I’ll get back to you about it.

I hope everyone is staying safe, and busy. Fingers crossed this is only the new normal for a little bit longer.

Lockdown Running Challenge Printable

Posted in Downloads, Personal, Printables
on November 5, 2020

I can’t tell you why, I can only assume I wasn’t of sound mind, but when my friend asked me if I fancied joining in lockdown running challenge over the next month-ish, I said ‘OK!’.

I think I got a little bit overexcited. And hysterical about lockdown.

My running is dreadful. I’d only just managed to get back to the gym when they shut again. But, for some reason, I am going to attempt to run 100km over lockdown.

My other half is going to try it too. You’ll be able to spot us a mile off, we’ll be the two hobbling around with lots of blisters. (Well, I will be. He’ll probably be the one that looks all sporty and athletic dragging me behind him).

The only thing that could make this bearable, I thought, was if I had some sort of printable to fill in. So, I’ve made one. It’s not perfect but it’ll do – and if I get through this, I’ll make a blooming beautiful certificate for myself to celebrate!

On the off-chance that any of you are attempting the same challenge, I thought I’d share it here. This is what it looks like.

Download here!

If you’re doing this lockdown running challenge, or similar PLEASE get in contact and let me know how it’s going. I’d love to hear from others.

Also, if anyone has any tips on how to beat running boredom, I am all ears.

Normal service will be resumed soon. I am not at all in my comfort zone here, and I wish I’d signed up to a book challenge instead. Books. They’re so nice, and indoorsy, and comforting and not at all horrible and cold and blister inducing. Thank goodness for my audible subscription, which is about the only thing going to get me through this all.