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Get those An Inspector Calls quotes fixed in your head!

 
An Inspector Calls by J.B. Priestley is a classic GCSE text. And if you do the AQA qualification, you'll get a choice of two questions. On of these is likely to be character based and the other character based. What follows is a quiz based on the sixteen quotes I use with my GCSE classes.

It's not a perfect list. It's not comprehensive. But I am pretty convinced that it will allow you to answer one of the two questions whatever comes up.

Question #1: What does Mr. Birling want himself and Gerald to work for?

Both Birling and Gerald Croft look to combine their companies to make money without considering the effect this will have on their workers.

Question #2: What does Mr. Birling say during his long speech to his children in Act One?

Mr. Birling says the Titanic is unsinkable. This shows that he does not understand the world as well as he thinks he does.

Question #3: Birling laughs at the socialists by saying that they think people are…

Birling's image actually shows how working together like bees can make things better for everyone.

Question #4: How did Eva Smith commit suicide?

The disinfectant is symbolic. Eva has to cleanse the infection of the capitalism that has destroyed her.

Question #5: Which of these things does Birling say about Eva Smith?

There is nothing wrong with Eva Smith's work. She is sacked purely because she asked for a small pay rise for her and her fellow workers.

Question #6: What does Shiela realise about young female workers like Eva Smith?

The fundamental error of Birling and his kind is to view people as figures on a balance sheet and not fully human .

Question #7: What does the Inspector say he is interested in?

The Inspector follows one line of inquiry at a time to show that we are all responsible for our own part in society and that we cannot hide behind the excuse that others are also behaving selfishly.

Question #8: What does Shiela say the Inspector is giving them?

Sheila recognises that the Birlings and Gerald are all guilty - the metaphor implies that she recognises that their behaviour is morally unacceptable.

Question #9: What doesn’t Mrs Birling like about Eva Smith?

Mrs Birling has no rational reason to dislike Eva. She believes she has the right to control Eva's future.

Question #10: What do we find out about Eric on the night he spends with Eva?

Eric unwittingly exploits Eva's vulnerability.

Question #11: How many Eva Smiths does the Inspector say there are?

Eva Smith is a symbol for the entire mistreated working class.

Question #12: What does the Inspector threaten those who will not learn their lesson with?

There is a dual threat of revolution and damnation.

Question #13: What does Birling call the Inspector after he leaves?

Birling dismisses the Inspector as a socialist and a crank, but we, the audience can see that he is in the wrong.

Question #14: What does Birling say when he realises that Inspecctor Goole was not a real police inspector?

Mr Birling is delighted that the Inspector was not 'real'. This shows that he has not learned his lesson and feels no remorse.

Question #15: What is Sheila’s reaction to the behaviour of her father and Gerald at the end of the play?

Sheila, like Eric has come to recognise that we are all responsible for each other. She is shocked that her father and Gerald cannot see this.

Question #16: What does Birling say to end the play?

There is a circular structure. The play ends on the word 'questions' , inviting the audience to consider their own lives.

So, how did you do? Keep coming back and you'll have it down in no time and smash that GCSE.

A couple of tips before you go:
1. There really is just one theme.
The play is about social responsibility. It is intended to show us that we have a moral duty to look after each other and to ensure that self-interest is kept in check.

2. The Inspector's final speech.
The Inspector's final speech towards the end of act 2 is soooo important! Here Priestley tells us exactly what the play is about. You can write a paragraph about the Inspector's final speech in almost any theme based question.

Once we were fiction is a blog by writer and teacher, Geoff Smith.







 

We went to Sizewell this week. Camping. It was a lot of fun and I've got to admit I thought the nuclear power station looked really, well, powerful I suppose. And it's big blockiness reminded me of my own little block. And the massive, faceless building made me thing about writing a novel. It's not just a blank page. It's grey. It's huge. It's intimidating. And when you stand looking at the outside you have no idea what there is beneath its grey-blank skin.

This week I wrote about 2500 words. I discovered the target feature on Scrivener. I tried the pomodora (no idea how to spell that) with my marking. And I'll try it with my writing when I get up tomorrow morning.

And so I set about conquering my writer's block by paying attention to  the stuff under the skin. Plotting. I came to realise what I think I knew anyway. The barrier was that I hadn't planned my plot enough. So I did some of that. Just a couple of sentences about each scene, and now I can see beyond the towering concrete. And I think I know what to do. I feel more positive about getting back to target. I really want to finish the first draft by the end of the month.

So I've done that and I feel more secure. One lesson that I've learned with this draft is that I really need to plot in as much detail as possible next time. I can 'pants' short stories but for the long haul stuff I really need an extensive scaffold.

I did do some plotting. I've used KM Weiland's plot points and character interviews (which I will definitely do again) and mixed that up with a bit of StoryGrid foolscap. But these aren't enough for me on there own. Next time everything needs to be much more something.

I wrote my bad guy's big speech this week. And as an English teacher I quite like seeing different themes and possible interpretations emerging. I aint saying they work yet, or if they ever will, but I can see the potential.

Anyhoo, onwards and upwards. Time to start cranking out the words.







 

You'll enjoy 'Lock In' if:

  • You are 14 or over.
  • You like sci-fi and social dystopias like 'Noughts and Crosses'.
  • You like a fast pace with plenty of dialogue.

In 'Lock In' a new virus has swept the planet leaving a portion of the population in a comatose state but with a fully operant consciousness. Thanks to technological investment, these Hadens can access society through human like robots called threeps. Some of these Hadens recover with the ability to allow other Hadens to use their bodies. These people are called integrators.

The book begins with a murder involving an integrator, and Chris Shane, a Haden detective living through a threep and new partner a former integrator called Vann set out to solve the crime.

What follows is combination of 'I, Robot' style speculative fiction and 'Maltese Falcon' style crime caper – two genres that I love. And I enjoyed the action scenes. I also liked the way the book tackled themes of ethnicity and of the marginalisation of minorities.

Later the plot did enough to keep me interested, but the book didn't do enough to get me enthralled. There was some sense of character, but I didn't really click with Scalzi's voices. With his heavy focus on dialogue (which I generally like, I didn't feel that the characters' individual voices were sufficiently differentiated, and the book, for me lacked a bit of texture.

I read another review of 'Lock In' that cites a 'Scooby Doo' ending and while I did enjoy the definite resolution, I do feel that this is a pretty astute observation.

Having finished the book,, I did enjoy it, but it's not one that I think a whole lot about. I may read more Scalzi. I may not.

I read this on kindle, and the formatting was pretty, but there were a lot of errors with the paragraphing. These don't bother me massively. But be warned if they're likely to bother you.

OWWF Rating: 6/10





You'll enjoy Leviathan Wakes if:

  • you are 12 or over.
  • you like space and stuff, or maybe Ender's Game.
  • you're a fan of P.I mysteries and tough cops.
  • you want to find a great series with the option to stop after one.

Okay so The Expanse is like the best thing I've seen on TV, like ever - well, alongside Stranger Things and People Just Do Nothing anyway. And so I figured since their isn't a second series yet, and I just wanted more, more, more, that I would read the book.

They call this series an epic space-opera, and I guess it's epic. That said, the cast list is pretty restricted, and the action rolls out in the space between Venus and Mars (okay maybe Saturn at a stretch). And I've got to say the term space-opera is pretty unappealing (too much like soap-opera, you know?).

Anyway the book is narrated from two alternating perspectives: Jim Holden, first Officer of the Canterbury, a Belt based ice miner, and Miller, a well weathered space-station detective, with a divorce and an attitude. Of the two perspectives I found the Miller chapters more compelling, but I think that the two narrative voices work well together, and that it's a bit unfair to compare Holden unfavourably as the tensions between Holden's innocence and Miller's experience make the book what it is.

As I read, I got about thirty pages in and I just thought - YES! This is what I've been looking to read. Just awesome! The voices and the atmosphere had me totally hooked. I'll admit that as I read on my enthusiasm waned a little. I did feel at times that Holden and Millers repeated successes against overwhelming odds, started to feel a little contrived and I found myself craving failure or even just a partial success, and having finished the book, I still feel that is a weakness.

If. like me, you come to Leviathan Wakes via the TV series, I think you'll be surprised by the extent that the story has been altered for TV. I love the TV series, but I really liked the way the story panned out here too. A lot more happens in this fist book than the TV series, and I think across the arc of this book the plot is excellently structured.

The ending of the book was effective, and not too hammy. It also felt like the close of a proper novel, as opposed to a first episode, so you won't be disappointed even if you decide not to read the whole series.

OWWF Rating: 8/10






ZA by Molly Looby

You'll enjoy ZA if you are:

  • a fan of zombie fiction;
  • you like a fast paced read with plenty of action;
  • aged 12-17;
  • a boy or a girl;
  • you like getting in on a series right from the start.

Review by Geoff Smith

This book is called ZA, Zombie Apocalypse and there's zombies in it. Lots of them. The cover, by CK designs, is outstanding. And I love the title too, Molly. Brilliant branding.

The story begins with a bit of character stuff presenting Zane, his skills and concerns, before the zombic action kicks off, when our characters are out at a Zombie Run event, no less. What follows is an escalating series of Zombie conflicts, a death or two, and one almost uncreditable coincidence. It's good stuff, action packed, an easy read and solid slapstick zombie fare.

At about twenty pages in I thought that I would hate the book. I found the language pretty stuffy a number of times and I was having some formatting issues with my Kindle. But as I got into the book I got into the action and I started to enjoy the writing too. I did become more and more aware, however, that the book has been written with creating a series in mind.

I guess what makes Zombie books so compelling for a lot of people is that the antagonist doesn't get in the way, you get a seige situation and a sort of Lord of the Flies, Darwinian dynamic, that must really resonate with young adult readers.

Now I'm not a young adult. I haven't been one for a while. And being honest, I struggle a bit with the TV culture of sprawling soap-like series like Homeland, The Walking Dead, and Lost, and I did think that ZA had something of those shows about it. There are a lot of loose ends here, and this wasn't for me. My 'disappointing ending spider sense' was definitely tingling by the 65% mark. And my spider sense was proved right (for me, anyway). There was no hint of a solution to the Zombie problem and no clear resolution of the characters' internal conflicts.

I'm sure that Ms. Looby has interesting things mapped out for future books – so if you're looking for a series this might not be an issue for you. I had the same feeling about More Than This by Patrick Ness, so the fault possibly lies with me.

If you like those shows – and if you're a Zombie fan, you probably do watch The Walking Dead, then this won't bother you – as you'll be happy to wait till book two – and I can totally imagine the YA readers I know loving this book.

And I enjoyed it too.

If you like The Walking Dead, or enjoyed More Than This by Patrick Ness, I reckon you'll like ZA.

OWWF Rating: 7/10






I think you'll enjoy Thread of Hope if:

  • you are 14 or over.
  • you're a fan of Philip Marlowe mysteries.
  • you like a fast moving page turner.
  • you're more into character than sophisticated Police procedure.
  • you want a good FREE book!

I found Jeff Shelby on Amazon kind of by chance. I saw one of his covers – the newest one - I forget the name – Thread of Danger, Thread of Innocence. Anyway, I clicked along and found that the first book in the Joe Tyler series, Thread of Hope, was free! So I thought, what the heck? Let's give it a try.

So, Joe Tyler? He's a guy with a past. With a missing daughter and an untidy divorce and a best friend in a coma, and yes it is serious, actually. Anyhow Joe Tyler finds missing kids. That's what he does. But here he is in his old home town trying to clear his friend. Of course things get complicated, and there are romance issues too. Of course there are.

Anyway I got into this pretty quick. I'm a big fan of Chandler so this mystery hit the spot for me. Joe Tyler is tough, but not too tough, smart but not too smart, brave but not gung-ho. Very much in the Marlowe mould. The writing isn't blindingly crafted but it's clear, crisp, functional and effective. It does the job.

Download it now and see if you agree.

Having read the book I had a nose at Shelby's biography. He's a high school English teacher, like me; he writes P.I. Capers, and I'm writing one too. He's also written a YA novel that looks to be on the verge of YA and NA. Like my book. Shelby, though, is unlike me, super prolific. I'd love to know how he does it. Oh yeah, and he's a Jeff too - we're a pair of homophones.

OWWF Rating: 8/10