Tag Archives: review

Texts From Jane Eyre- Mallory Ortberg.


Disclaimer: I was given a free copy of this book (from the US publisher) in exchange for an honest review

Synopsis (my own- for once!)

Texts From Jane Eyre is a collection of text conversations between various (generally famous) literary characters and writers.

Review

I’m rushing through my notable books in my backlog of reviews because I want reviews of the ones I might mention in my review of the year. I’m doing this one first partly because I really enjoyed it, and partly because I bought it for my sister for Christmas so I had been waiting to write it.

This is my most recommended book currently (although since finishing How to be a Heroine over Christmas that may overtake it). I recommended it on both my Book Blogger Holiday Card Exchange cards, and I bought it for my sister (I ordered it from The Book Depository because it’s not out over here yet).

Actually when I was first sent the offer of an advanced copy of this I was unsure. Sometimes these types of things can be more annoying than funny, but then I read some reviews and realised I had to say yes. I’m so glad I did.

It was funny. Especially when I knew the writers or characters. In fact the only bad thing about it really is that a lot of the humour is lost if you haven’t read the books in question.

My favourite bits were the Poe sections:

“whoa
I wasn’t LOOKING at a bird
wow where is this even coming from?
the BIRD
wouldn’t stop LOOKING
at ME”

and the William Blake sections:

“Is it a picture of someone being flayed?”

“Well

sort of

I mean they’re already flayed but they’re not getting flayed

it’s not like a double flaying

ooh wait

hang on”

It’s a good flick through book too, so probably better in the physical book format. That is a problem with kindle books, no good for flicking.

Basically anyone who likes books should appreciate it, and should read it.

4.5/5

Buy it from amazon:

Hardback pre-order (£14.99) – released November 2015

Buy it from The Book Depository:

Hardback (£11.00)

Other Reviews:

So…I know I had said I read reviews on a load of blogs, but apparently none of these bloggers have put them on goodreads, and feedly doesn’t allow me to search (unless I pay..booo!), so if you have written one please put a link in comments and I will add it here.

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Filed under Contempory, Fiction review, Humour

That Liverpool Girl- Ruth Hamilton


ruth hamilton, that liverpool girl, book, book cover
Synopsis (from amazon)

NOT EVEN THE BOMBS THAT DESTROYED THEIR CITY COULD BREAK THEIR SPIRIT … Three generations of strong, determined women and the war that threatened to tear them apart. In the backstreets of Liverpool, Eileen Watson lives with her mother, Nellie, daughter Mel and her three tear-away sons. Life isn’t great, but they have each other, and family can get you through anything. Or…can it? Then, on the third day in September 1939, Britain declares war on Germany and their lives change forever. The children have to be evacuated, but daughter Mel refuses to go, and so Eileen says goodbye to het mother and sons, moves away from the street they love and faces a future without most of the people in her precious family. Thus begins a journey for them all. A journey filled with forbidden love, tragedy and the terrifying sounds of a city they love crumbling into craters left by the Luftwaffe. Their lives will never be the same again …
Review
I bought this book (on kindle daily deal) because I like books set during the world wars. As a war book, this was pretty war lacking, and that was disappointing, especially after writing a post about my top 10 books set during war time. Really it was more a story about Eileen, with a bit thrown in about Mel, her daughter, and even less about the rest of her family- and the place they were evacuated to. Then there was a bit of a story about Tom and his family.
It was all over the place really, the stories were interlinked, but it was like Hamilton couldn’t write a complete story for any storyline so decided to put a few together- and only Eileen’s story really had enough detail to be a story of its own- at a stretch. Occasionally there were war moments, but most of the time the war felt more like a strategy to split the family apart. When the war parts of the story came they sort of came in one big lump rather than the story constantly feeling like a story happening during the war.
However the bits where there was war were rather well done. Moving. Especially towards the end where the war section actually became the story.
3/5
Buy it:
Kindle (£3.29)
Paperback (£5.24)

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Filed under Fiction review, Historical

It’s Monday. What are You Reading? 1/7/13


It’s been a while since I’ve taken part in It’s Monday! What are you reading?  (which is hosted by Bookjourney) but I have time to write the post this week so I thought, why not? Visit Book Journey for links to other blogs and to add your own.

Currently Reading

book, book 2 girls, book two girls, dark cover, black cover, book black, book dark, audrey niffenegger, her fearful symmetry

Her Fearful Symmetry This book has been on my To Be Read (TBR) pile for so long. I love Niffenegger’s previous novel, The Time Traveller’s Wife, and I’ve heard mixed reviews of this one, so I was a bit anxious about being disappointed by it. It’s the story of two girls who inherit their aunt’s house, except her ghost is still living there. So far I am enjoying it, just not as much as The Time Traveller’s Wife

the end of your life book club, book, Will Schwalbe

The End of Your Life Book Club is part memoir, part book about books. It mainly concerns Will and his mother. Will’s mother has stage 4 cancer (i.e. incurable). When in various waiting rooms Will and his mother start talking about the various books they are reading, and start reading and discussing the same books. It’s also a lot about how the mother and extended family cope with her illness. So far it’s actually been strangely uplifting, and I’ve added a few books to my wishlist.

Reviews

A beautiful truth, book, chimp, chimp book, Colin McAdam

A Beautiful Truth is a story about chimps. Louee who is adopted by a childless couple forms one part of the series, the other part follows chimps who are part of a language and social interaction study. I found it a little difficult to read but the plot was rather interesting.

Bing, Bing paint day, book, children's book, picture book, Ted Dewan, bunny, bunny book, rabbit, rabbit book, bing bunny

Bing- Paint Day was my Children’s Hour pick last week. It’s basically a book about colours as it talks about what Bing is painting with different colours.

Added to the TBR

The Second Last Woman to Die in England, book, black book, shoes book, Maggie Joel

The Second-Last Woman in England is about the second to last woman to be executed in England. I won this book from An Armchair by the Sea
Dexter, Dearly Devoted Dexter, book, black book, red book, black and red book, Jeff Lindsey

Dearly Devoted Dexter is the second book in the Dexter series. It’s been on my wishlist since I read the first, but I only just got a hold of it via bookmooch.

 

 

If you fancy winning a book too you can enter my giveaway of It Never Was You.

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Filed under It's Monday! What Are You Reading?, Memes

The Rest is Silence- Carla Guefenbein


books, Carla Guefenbein, The Rest is Silence

Synopsis (from amazon)

As the adults sit down to gossip over a long wedding lunch and the rest of the children rush off to play, a young boy slips out of sight beneath the table. At twelve years old, Tommy’s weak heart prevents him from joining his cousins’ games, so he sets his MP3 player to record the voices chattering above him. But then the conversation turns to his mother’s death and he overhears something he was never meant to know: that she didn’t die of an illness, but suicide.Confused and hurt, Tommy keeps what he has learned to himself and begins his own secret investigation into what really happened. At the same time, his father and step-mother have problems of their own to contend with. Juan is racked by private grief and guilt after the death of one of his patients (a boy of his son’s age), and Alma, his second wife, senses an increasing distance in their marriage and gradually finds herself drawn back towards an old flame. As all three withdraw into their own worlds, leaving more and more unsaid between them, their family story moves inexorably, affectingly towards its devastating conclusion.

Review

This was the first book I read after I finished Life After Life. I really didn’t want to read anything, I more or less had to force myself to start something. I was sure that once I’d actually got into a book it would be alright, but starting was a difficult step. Maybe my view of The Rest is Silence suffered because of this, I couldn’t help comparing it to Life After Life- at least to a point. And whilst I enjoyed it well enough I didn’t find anything special in it either. Maybe I should have chosen something a little more easy going after Life After Life?

It wasn’t really what I expected. I expected the discovery of suicide to be an important plot point which sustained throughout the story. In fact it was more of a spark that starts a fire. It was referred back to, but it wasn’t as much of a key point as I had anticipated, and actually the story may have worked without it (although it would have suffered somewhat if it was taken out).

The story switched through different voices. Tommy, the young boy, Alma, his stepmother, and Jaun his Father. The time also jumped around a little, especially in Alma’s chapters. This was most obvious at the beginning of the story, and it made things a little confusing, and it did make it harder to get into the book.

There were, in effect 3 (or maybe 4) stories running through the novel, one for each character, but another where all the stories interlinked. It was interesting to see the different sides of a story, and the ways the stories deviated showed the fractures in the family.

I enjoyed Alma’s story best, and I think I liked her best too. There was something quite strong about her, but she almost wanted too much control over her life, she didn’t ever seem to just let things happen. Possibly I shouldn’t have liked her, but there was something very easy to like about her. I think part of it was that Juan was shown as having quite a hard exterior, and although we saw his softer side he never seemed to understand that sometimes you have to show you’re soft side and at others it’s better to remain strong. We saw the contrast between the ways he and Alma interacted with people, and Alma came off better.

Tommy’s story should have been the most interesting, but his voice didn’t really work for me. Sometimes it felt like a child’s voice, but most of the time it was a bit too adult, without and common sense.

3/5

Buy it:
Kindle (£5.44)
Paperback (£8.31)

Other reviews

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Children’s Hour: Handa’s Surprise


Children’s Hour is a feature posted every Thursday here at Lucybird’s Book Blog. Children’s Hour is my time for reviewing children’s picture books. In my job in a nursery I encounter lots of children’s books, and these are the books I use for Children’s Hour.

You can find links to past Children’s Hour posts here.

I’d love to hear everybody’s experiences of the books I review too, and feel free to post me a link to your own reviews, I’d love to make this a bit interactive.

The image (if you were wondering) is taken from Shirley’s Hughes’ Alfie and Annie-Rose books which I loved as a child.
Handa’s Surprise is a simple story in which Handa takes a surprise present of fruits to her friend Akeyo. As Handa walks along the road different animals take the fruit from her basket, but eventually they are replaced, and Handa ends up with a surprise too!

What really makes this story is the pictures. It means that the children can more or less tell the story themselves. The words show the story as Handa sees it but from the pictures we can see that things are not going as Handa expects. It makes it a pretty good story for speaking and understanding as the children caan explain what it happening.

The pictures themselves are very bright and sort of African in colour and style.

The children are interested to name the animals, although they struggle a little to name beyond your standard zoo animals. In a way that’s a good thing because it means they can learn about other animals.

A lot of the fruits are ones which they wouldn’t normally encounter too, so it’s interesting to show them, and can lead to lots of activities if you’re in the education business.

Buy Handa’s Surprise:

Paperback (£4.49)

-with DVD (£5.99)

Big Book (£12.24)

Kindle (£4.11)

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Filed under Children's Hour, Fiction review, Picture books

Life After Life- Kate Atkinson


Disclaimer: I was given an advance copy of Life After Life free of charge by the publisher (via netgalley) in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis (from amazon)

What if you had the chance to live your life again and again, until you finally got it right?

During a snowstorm in England in 1910, a baby is born and dies before she can take her first breath.

During a snowstorm in England in 1910, the same baby is born and lives to tell the tale.

What if there were second chances? And third chances? In fact an infinite number of chances to live your life? Would you eventually be able to save the world from its own inevitable destiny? And would you even want to?

Review.

I really did not want this book to end, it was, just, wow, there’s no words! I’m sad that it ended when it did. I have that sort of melancholy feeling you get from finishing a book that’s really special. I can’t remember the last time I felt that, maybe as far back as The Elegance of the Hedgehog (and that was back in 2010)? In some way it’s greater because the story didn’t have to end there. The nature of the story means it never really had to end, although I suppose if it didn’t end Atkinson would still be writing it and I wouldn’t have got to read it at all!

How can I describe this book? It’s a sort of epic Groundhog Day. It’s strange how everything seems sort of inevitable, even though Ursula has lived it before, has knowledge from that former life, even though you know she should fix it you’re scared that the same thing will just happen again, and again, and again. You’re shouting at her. You know what’s going to happen and there’s a sadness, and a dread, somehow you don’t think she’ll fix it.

I think that shows something of Atkinson’s writing talent, and ability to get you into a story, that your emotions trump your logic, every, single, time.

I loved Ursula, when everything changed, however she decided to live that life, she was still, undeniably Ursula, and that’s probably a hard thing to achieve. I enjoyed the whole family dynamic too, and that was something which barely changed.

A lot of the story focused around the second world war, which is a period of time I like to read fiction about. It was interesting though because Ursula’s different lives meant you could see the war from different angles, and with a sort of hindsight which was built into the novel, rather than from the reader living in a different time.

I’ve never read any Atkinson before, she’s known for crime stories, which aren’t generally my thing, but I may read more of her now.

5/5

Life After Life is released on 14th March, you can pre-order it now:

Kindle (£8.50)

Hardback (£10.63)

Paperback– released September (£10.09)

Other Reviews:

Sam Still Reading

Have I missed your review? Link me in comments and I’ll add it here.

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Filed under Contempory, Fantasy, Fiction review, Historical

It’s Monday. What are You Reading? 4/3/13


It’s been a while since I’ve taken part in It’s Monday! What are you reading?  (which is hosted by Bookjourney) but I have time to write the post this week so I thought, why not? Visit Book Journey for links to other blogs and to add your own.

Currently Reading

Peaches for Monsieur le Curé- Joanne Harris This book is third in the Chocolat series. Having loved Chocolat and enjoyed Lollipop Shoes I was looking forward to this one, although I haven’t got far enough into it yet to judge. In this one Vivianne is called back to the village where she first opened her chocolate shop to find much has changed.

The Snow Child- Eowyn Ivey I got this book as a kindle deal after Christmas. The story followers an older couple who moved to Alaska to escape the sadness of their childless life. A fresh start. One day a child appears in the snow. Could this be the child the couple have longed for? Does she even exist at all? Despite a slow start I’m enjoying this book so far.

Finished Last Week.

1,227 QI Facts to Blow Your Socks Off this book was so cheap on kindle it was ridiculous! And it still is only 20p (click the image for amazon). I love the QI show, and I’ve read most of the books. They are always full of interesting things you never knew, and this was no exception. I just wish there was a bit less repetition from the show.

The Specimen- Martha Lea I was sent this book by Canongate and I’ve been reading it since December, that’s a hell of a long time for me! It really was not holding my attention. It is the story of a Victorian woman who goes to Brazil with her lover to study the insects there. Decades later her lover is murdered, and she is the suspect, but what went wrong and why would she kill the man who allowed her to live her dreams?

A Long Way Down- Nick Hornby is the story of 4 people who interrupt each others suicide attempts and decide together to wait and see if they still want to commit suicide in 6 weeks time.

Reviews

A Long Way Down- Nick Hornby (see description above) wasn’t as good as the other Hornby novels I have read, but was better than other funny suicide novels.

Irv’s Odyssey: Seeking the Way Home- Irving H. Podolsky is the third in series where Irv searches for meaning in his life

I am the Music Man- Debra Potter was my Children’s Hour pick last week. It’s a version of the well known song from school discos with bright pictures and a variation in instruments.

Added to the TBR

Life After Life- Kate Atkinson despite being closed for review requests at the moment I just cannot resist the occasional peak at netgalley, which is where Life After Life is from. I’ve heard nothing but good things about Kate Atkinson but despite my sister and my mum both enjoying her books I’ve somehow never got around to reading anything by her. This is a sort of Groundhog Day novel. If you could live your life again what would you change? And what impact would it have? This one is going straight to the top of my TBR pile.

The Show- John A. Heldt is a sequel to The Mine which I have previously reviewed on this blog. It follows on from The Mine where a woman from the 1940s discovered that the man she loved is a time traveller from 2000. Grace manages to follow her man, only to stumble back in time to 1918! It was given to me by the author.

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Filed under It's Monday! Waht are you reading?, Memes

The Woodcutter- Kate Danley


This book was read as part of the Out of Your Comfort Zone Challenge

“2) Go to amazon’s book page and pick a section your don’t usually read from, try to make it a different section to option 1. Look at the bestsellers list and read the number 1 spot, if it’s part of a series read the first in a series.”

The Woodcutter was the number 1 bestselling kindle graphic novel

Synopsis (from amazon)

Deep within the Wood, a young woman lies dead. Not a mark on her body. No trace of her murderer. Only her chipped glass slippers hint at her identity.

The Woodcutter, keeper of the peace between the Twelve Kingdoms of Man and the Realm of the Faerie, must find the maiden’s killer before others share her fate. Guided by the wind and aided by three charmed axes won from the River God, the Woodcutter begins his hunt, searching for clues in the whispering dominions of the enchanted unknown.

But quickly he finds that one murdered maiden is not the only nefarious mystery afoot: one of Odin’s hellhounds has escaped, a sinister mansion appears where it shouldn’t, a pixie dust drug trade runs rampant, and more young girls go missing. Looming in the shadows is the malevolent, power-hungry queen, and she will stop at nothing to destroy the Twelve Kingdoms and annihilate the Royal Fae…unless the Woodcutter can outmaneuver her and save the gentle souls of the Wood.

Blending magic, heart-pounding suspense, and a dash of folklore, The Woodcutter is an extraordinary retelling of the realm of fairy tales.

Review

Well first off what the hell was this doing in the graphic novel section? Graphic novels do need t have pictures right?!

So the story itself. It was a pretty good premise. A blending of different fairytales gone wrong with the woodcutter (you know, the one who saved Red Riding Hood, because Princes aren’t always all that) having the job of fixing everything.

I’m not sure I can really say that the premise met up to its promises however. The beginning was rather good and got me interested but the further I read through the story the more it seemed like Danley was trying too hard to fit in as many fairytale characters and creatures as she could and sometimes it didn’t really benefit the plot.

I did like the woodcutter however, and especially the idea that he was more than he seemed, rather a guardian of the worlds which intersected in his wood than actually a simple woodcutter.

It was an easy read, and fairly entertaining, but I didn’t really think it was anything special.

3/5

Buy it:

Kindle (£3.99)

Paperback (£8.99)

Other Reviews:

If you have reviewed this book please leave me a link in comments and I will add it here.

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Filed under Fantasy, Fiction review

Against My Will- Benjamin Berkley


This book was read as part of a Virtual Author Book Tour. Visit other stops on the tour for more reviews, giveaways, interviews, and guest posts. The next stop on the tour is Teena in Toronto.

Synopsis (from Amazon)<

Danielle Landau knows she should feel lucky, but she can’t feel anything but dread. Not only did she pass the New York Bar, but she married the man her father says is just right for her and lives in a fashionable new loft in Queens. But the man who seems like the perfect catch is a perfect nightmare at home. Jacob tries to control her career, her daily routine, and even what she eats. He ignores her desires and belittles her every chance he gets. Soon, Danielle doesn’t recognize her husband or herself, and she struggles to find a way out.As we follow Danielle on her journey of terror and recovery, we see her story intersect with the diary entries of a young girl from more than fifty years ago, and the full weight of the family’s secrets becomes clear. This is a story of survival, self-discovery, justice, and ultimately about love.

Review.

I hada bit of a funny relationship with this book. A lot happened, and I was interested in the things that were happening but everything seemed a bit brief. I think with all the topics there could have quite possibly have been three, or maybe even four different novels written, and I think that would have been better because it would have meant the stories would have to be told in more detail.

I did feel that I got to know Danielle quite well, but it was more from knowing her that I could tell how she felt rather than how her actual feelings were described. It meant that early on I felt a bit detached from her, but towards the end I could look back and imagine her feelings a bit better. I can’t quite decide if that’s a good thing or not. It’s a bit more like getting to know a friend than you would get from a deeper description, and in a way in the end that makes you care more. I wanted things to work out for Danielle buy the time I felt I knew her. On the other hand the most emotional areas were at the start of the book, and this is where I felt the most detached from her.

The second story however I didn’t really get. There was very little to really link the two stories, and the detail was far too sparse. It felt like Berkley added this bit to try and add something deep and meaningful into the story, but he would have been better off adding something more to Danielle’s story. If he wanted to write a story of the concentration camps then I feel it should have been done as a separate story.

3/5

Previous tour stops:

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The Woman Who Died a Lot- Jasper Fforde



The Woman Who Died a Lot was read as part of the Wishlist Challenge.

This is the seventh book in the Thursday Next series. You can read my reviews of the previous 5 Thursday Next books by using the Thursday Next or Jasper Fforde tags.

Synopsis (from Amazon)

The BookWorld’s leading enforcement officer Thursday Next is four months into an enforced semi-retirement following an assassination attempt. She returns home to Swindon for what you’d expect to be a time of recuperation. If only life were that simple.

Thursday is faced with an array of family problems – son Friday’s lack of focus since his career in the Chronoguard was relegated to a might-have-been, daughter Tuesday’s difficulty perfecting the Anti-Smote shield needed to thwart an angry Deity’s promise to wipe Swindon off the face of the earth, and Jenny, who doesn’t exist.
And that’s not all. With Goliath attempting to replace Thursday at every opportunity with synthetic Thursdays, the prediction that Friday’s Destiny-Aware colleagues will die in mysterious circumstances, and a looming meteorite that could destroy all human life on earth, Thursday’s retirement is going to be anything but easy.

 Review

As with the previous book The Woman Who Died a Lot read much more like a series book than the previous books did. That is that it is harder to understand if you didn’t read the previous books.

I found that this book was a little more predictable than the others. I quite often guessed what was going to happen before it did, which hasn’t generally been true of the Thursday Next books. However enough was confusing and there were enough twists that I didn’t guess everything, so it was still exciting and intriguing enough for me to want to keep reading it.

I did kind of miss the bookworld element which wasn’t in this book, and the literary references were a bit less frequent.

Eagerly awaiting the next one now.

4/5

Buy it:

Paperback (£5.59)

Kindle (£4.99)

Hardback (£10.87)

Other Reviews:

Alison @ Piling on the Books.

Have I missed your review? Comment with your link and I will add it here

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Filed under Contempory, Crime, Fantasy, Fiction review

Diary of a Jetsetting Call Girl- Tracy Quan


This book was read as part of the Wishlist Challenge.

Diary of a Jetsetting Call Girl is the third book in a series, it is preceded by Diary of a Manhattan Call Girl and Diary of a Married Call Girl.

Synopsis (from amazon)

Married call girl Nancy Chan has been asked to do something outrageous – even by her standards.

Most favoured customer Milt has invited Nancy to his luxurious new villa in idyllic Provence. That’s a lot of euros, but …

Can a (married) Manhattan call girl really holiday with a client? Seeing him morning, noon and night, coming up with new entertainments, and maintaining both a light tan and
a ‘professional’ distance? Not to mention Milt’s Viagra habit. In a difficult economic climate a girl can’t always meet her quota, and Nancy’s worried about losing her edge.

Nancy jumps at the chance to have a break from Manhattan (and from husband Matt) for a few weeks. Desperate for an alibi, she invents a vacation with her mom in southern France. In reality, Nancy is hard at work with some new playmates – Tini (Malaysian, with something extra), Isabel (a St-Tropez madam), and Serge (Isabel’s hunky chauffeur) – while Matt grows more inquisitive. As Nancy discovers, the French countryside is ‘ten times trickier than Manhattan’ and nothing in her temporary world is quite what it seems.

When Milt’s enigmatic cook Duncan turns up unexpectedly in Nancy’s erotic fantasies, she begins questioning everything she knows. Can Nancy keep getting away with this?

Review

Having read the first Nancy Chan novel as a teenager, and the second in 2009 I’ve had Diary of a Jetsetting Call Girl on my wishlist for quite some time. When I saw it in The Works I considered the Wishlist Challenge and thought, why not?

In comparison with the other Nancy Chan novels it was a bit racier than I had remembered. Obviously if it’s a book about a Call Girl you expect at least some sex but I’m sure there was less in the other books.

The plot was rather different from the other two as well. A bit less realistic, a few too many coincidences.

I did rather enjoy it however. It was an easy read, and had a bit more kick than your standard chick-lit.

3.5/5

Buy it:

Paperback (£6.89)

Kindle (£2.99)

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Deep Powder- Dirk Robertson


This book was my first read for the Out Your Comfort Zone Challenge. The idea was to take a random book from a section of the library/bookshop which you don’t normally visit, but seeing as the central library in Birmingham  is moving soon they have booked up most of their books, and so don’t have any sections. This meant I just picked the first book I wouldn’t normally read.

Synopsis (from amazon)

Black snowboarder Finlay turns amateur sleuth when his gardening expertise leads him to believe that the death of fellow snowboarder Animal, is no typical slope accident. Things heat up when he learns that the flashy new snowboard he promised to test is designed to not only cut through snow, but to transport another kind of powder. With a little help from his friends, Finlay gets closer to the truth, and as the tables begin to turn, the line between friend and foe begins to blur.

Review.

Oh my God this book was sooo bad, just simply terrible. Words cannot describe. I probably never would have even finished it is it wasn’t for the fact that my kindle broke, and slightly because I didn’t want to give up on a book I was reading for my own challenge.

First off there were just factual errors. Whoever heard of a high-pitched Birmingham accent for one thing? Then there were continuity errors. At one point someone watches someone else die after he has already made sure that he has expired!

There seemed to be random events thrown in which had absolutely nothing to do with the rather absurd (and at times very predictable) plot. The worst being a very clinical, very pointless, very unlikely, and very badly written sex scene.

It was just…urgh.

2/5

Buy it (maybe for someone you hate?):

Paperback (£7.19)

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A Possible Life- Sebastian Faulks.


Disclaimer: This book was given to me free of charge by the publishers in exchange for an honest review

Synopsis (from amazon)

Terrified, a young prisoner in the Second World War closes his eyes and pictures himself going out to bat on a sunlit cricket ground in Hampshire.

Across the courtyard in a Victorian workhouse, a father too ashamed to acknowledge his son.

A skinny girl steps out of a Chevy with a guitar; her voice sends shivers through the skull.

Soldiers and lovers, parents and children, scientists and musicians risk their bodies and hearts in search of connection – some key to understanding what makes us the people we become.

Provocative and profound, Sebastian Faulks’s dazzling novel journeys across continents and time to explore the chaos created by love, separation and missed opportunities. From the pain and drama of these highly particular lives emerges a mysterious consolation: the chance to feel your heart beat in someone else’s life.

Review

Despite being rather disappointed with the last book I read from Sebastian Faulks I would still happily describe myself as a fan. Birdsong is one of my favourite books, although Engleby shows a greater writing skill. So when I was contacted about reviewing A Possible Life I was very eager. A small part of me worried that it would be in a similar vein to A Week in December, but you can’t expect to love every book by an author so I tried to approach A Possible Life without any reference to Faulks’ back-catalogue.

There was something strange about this novel in that it wasn’t really one. It was actually a collection of short stories. It was advertised as being a novel made up of stories with a link. Well there maybe was a link, if you insisted on finding it, but only because of something which featured in the last story, it wasn’t a link you would see if you weren’t looking for it, and I’m not really happy with calling it a list.

In some ways I think A Possible Life might be a good place to start with Faulks. It’s almost like a showcase. Different styles of writing, different themes. I think everyone is bound to enjoy one of the stories, however it might be a fight to get to the story you like.

For me the best stories were the first and the last.

The first had certain echoes of Birdsong, not just because it was a story of war but also because it had a certain level of insight to that experience. My problem with this story however was that it felt like it was stripped down. All the stories ran over a period of decades, which was good in a way because it showed the progress of a character, but also meant you didn’t feel you were getting enough detail.

The last story was the story of a gifted music artist. It’s the story which has stuck with me the most. Faulks’ descriptions of Anya’s music make me want to hear her sing- but seeing as she isn’t real I can’t do that! There was also an almost beautiful fragility to Anya which made me really care about her- or maybe that’s just what the narrator felt for her. Even if it is the second then it shows that Faulks’ first person narrative is realistic and evocative. I could have read a whole book about Anya, and it may have been able to make into a whole book, but only if it was either told by Anya herself, or without using the first person narrative, either of which I feel would have taken something away from the story.

Thinking about it all of the stories did have an element I liked, but (except for the possible exception of the last story) those moments seemed to be over all too quickly and were surrounded by moments which I didn’t care so much about.

I’m not really sure how I want to rate this book. The stand out parts are close to 5 stars, but other bits only really deserve 3. So (for now at least) I’m going to skip the rating on this one.

Buy it:

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Filed under Contempory, Fiction review, Historical, Short story

Hotel on The Corner of Bitter and Sweet- Jamie Ford



Synopsis (from amazon)

1986, The Panama Hotel The old Seattle landmark has been boarded up for decades, but now the new owner has made a startling discovery in the basement: personal belongings stored away by Japanese families sent to interment camps during the Second World War. Among the fascinated crowd gathering outside the hotel, stands Henry Lee, and, as the owner unfurls a distinctive parasol, he is flooded by memories of his childhood. He wonders if by some miracle, in amongst the boxes of dusty treasures, lies a link to the Okabe family, and the girl he lost his young heart to, so many years ago.

Review

When Judith @ Leeswammes Blog saw that I was reading Garden of Stones (the review of which is scheduled for February) she suggested that if I was interested in the topic I should read Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet.

Unfortunately for Garden of Stones I was reading Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet when I got around to writing a review. At the time of reading Garden of Stones I had really enjoyed it, but it pales in comparison to Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet.

I found Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet felt rather authentic, especially during the war years. In some sense the  story seemed not so much a war novel as a romance.

A beautiful romance novel too. There was the level of uncertainty of first love, a sort of is this love feeling. At the same time Henry really had great conviction, even when everything was against his love he still held on, he never really let Keiko go. In a way this makes the end of the war a bit of an anti-climax. (highlight for spoiler) It seemed at odds that Henry wouldn’t wait longer for Keiko. If his letter was returned especially she still might come to find him, but instead he gives up on her

Henry was the perfect character to explore the war element from because he could see lots of different sides as a Chinese-American in love with a Japanese-American. He wasn’t completely embedded in any of these perspectives but you could gain a sort of empathy for conflicting views which you wouldn’t have gained from seeing one perspective in detail. I would have liked to see the interment camps in a little more detail but from seeing the changes the Japanese citizens would return to meant that as a reader you can imagine longer-term effects.

In shot I’m glad I started my year on this book. Here’s to hoping 2013 brings lots more great reads.

4.5/5

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Hardback (£11.69)

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Filed under Fiction review, Historical, Romantic

Ignorance- Michèle Roberts


strong>Disclaimer: I was given this book free of charge by the publishers (via netgalley) in exchange for an honest review

Synopsis (from Amazon)

Jeanne and Marie-Angèle grow up, side by side yet apart, in the Catholic village of Ste Madeleine. Marie-Angèle is the daughter of the grocer, inflated with ideas of her rightful place in society; Jeanne’s mother washes clothes for a living and used to be a Jew. When war arrives, the village must play its part in a game for which no one knows the rules – not the dubious hero who embroils Marie-Angele in the black market, nor the artist living alone with his red canvases. In these uncertain times, the enemy may be hiding in your garden shed and the truth can be buried under a pyramid of recriminations. A mesmerising exploration of guilt, faith, desire and judgement, Ignorance brings to life a people at war.

Review.

The synopsis above is rather different to the one which I read on netgalley, and I feel it represents the book much better. I went into the story expecting a story which looked back on war times, and something which had been hidden within that time, some great secret. What I got was the story of two women, childhood friends who had started on a similar path but ended up going in completely different directions.

The war was somewhat of an important factor in the story, however it was only significant in that a major storyline would not have happened outside of the war- there was never any real sense that it was war-time.

Marie-Angèle ended up going to an (arguably) better place, she still seemed to have some care for her old friend, however it came across as charity, or a duty. Marie-Angèle didn’t seem to actually care for Jeanne so much as to want to be seen to be caring for her. Jeanne in her turn actually seemed to dislike Marie-Angèle, and I didn’t blame her.

You see I didn’t like Marie-Angèle the whole way through this book, and that made her chapters a little difficult to read. I found her snobby, fake, and rather conniving. The nearest I can say I came to liking her was that I understood sometimes why she might think what she was doing was right, although she seemed to value her own opinion as being much above others.

Jeanne I ended up liking. We never really know what became of Jeanne, but I hope her life got better.

There were some elements to the story which I didn’t really understand the inclusion of. They added little to the plot, apart from fulfilling the promised secret which was not significant to the rest of the story.

3.5/5

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Filed under Fiction review, Historical

All She Ever Wanted- Rosalind Noonan


Disclaimer: I was sent this book by the publishers, via netgalley, free of charge in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis (from amazon)

For years, Chelsea Maynard has longed to be a mother. She’s imagined caring for a new baby in the lovely house she shares with her husband, Leo, fondly planning every detail. But after a difficult birth, those dreams of blissful bonding evaporate. Chelsea battles sleep deprivation and feelings of isolation. Little Annabelle cries constantly, and Chelsea has dark visions fuelled by exhaustion and self-doubt. Her sister, Emma, insists she gets help for postpartum depression, but Chelsea’s doctor dismisses her worries as self-indulgent. Doubting her ability to parent – even doubting her own sanity – Chelsea is close to collapse. Then an unthinkable crisis hits.

Review

This book reminded me strangely of Beneath The Shadows it shouldn’t have really. There’s a similarity in plot, in that in both stories focus around a person going missing, and both include a baby. However that is where the similarity ends. There were some similarities in writing style, but not enough to really explain why I kept thinking of Beneath the Shadows whilst reading All She Ever Wanted.

I expected a little more soul searching and a little less blaming anyone but herself. From the synopsis given on netgalley I had imagined Chelsea being frantic that she may have done something to her baby, but whilst that element did come into it she seemed more to want to find someone else to blame than to try and find something inside herself. This made it a bit more of a mystery novel than I had expected.

Having said that it was more than your stereotypical mystery. There were the usual twists and turns, and maybe just a few to many suspects, and I wasn’t able to guess what had happened. However there was a deeper emotional aspect than you would get from most mysteries.

The postnatal depression sections were done well too. You could really see how Charlotte felt. Most people know a little about postnatal depression but this really got through what it’s like in reality.

4/5

All She Ever Wanted is out on Kindle now and is released as a paperback in February, but you can pre-order it now

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Filed under Contempory, Fiction review, Mystery, Psychology (fiction)

The Virgin Suicides- Jeffrey Eugenides


This book was read as part of The Rory List

Synopsis (from amazon)

The shocking thing about the girls was how nearly normal they seemed when their mother let them out for the one and only date of their lives. Twenty years on, their enigmatic personalities are embalmed in the memories of the boys who worshipped them and who now recall their shared adolescence: the brassiere draped over a crucifix belonging to the promiscuous Lux; the sisters’ breathtaking appearance on the night of the dance; and the sultry, sleepy street across which they watched a family disintegrate and fragile lives disappear.

Review

After loving Middlesex, the first book I read by Eugenides, I added The Virgin Suicides to my wishlist. It wasn’t something that had really appealed to me before, it sounded a bit depressing to be honest. I had heard that it was good but it took another book by him to make me actually want to read it.

It wasn’t really that disturbing however. In fact the actual suicides took up only a tiny fraction of the books. They still weren’t exactly the most pleasant thing to read about but they were more upsetting from their consequences than for themselves.

It’s not really a story about the girl’s suicides as such. It’s an important factor, but really it’s about a community. Everyone seems to be obsessed with the sisters, even before the suicides start. There’s a sort of shared experience there, with everyone wanting to know as much about the girls as they can, and sharing all the knowledge they have.

There is a certain element of how the suicides effect the family, and the wider community, but the incidents are never really looked into in that great a detail. There is some wondering about why the suicides happened, but once a theory is suggested everyone just seems to go with it, even though it never really fully explains why what happened happened.

I did enjoy The Virgin Suicides. It still had the same beauty of writing, but I didn’t enjoy it as much as Middlesex. Maybe because I didn’t really feel I got to know the characters that well. I felt I got to know them in the same way as you might get to know someone who you see everyday, and might speak to, but isn’t your friend. Maybe that was Eugenides intention seeing as that was how the boys knew the girls really.

4/5

Buy it:

Paperback (£6.74)

Other Reviews:

Alone. Together. Fact. Fiction

So Many Books, So Little Time

Reading is the Ultimate Aphrodisiac

Have I missed your review? Leave a link in comments and I will add it here

 

P.S Out of interest has anyone watched the film? Is it any good?

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Filed under Contempory, Fiction review, Literary

Reservation Road- John Burnham Schwartz


Disclaimer: This book was given to me free of charge by the publishers is exchange for an honest review

Synopsis (from amazon)

At the close of a beautiful summer day near the quiet Connecticut town where they live, the Learner family – Ethan and Grace, their children, Josh and Emma – stop at a gas station on their way home from a concert. Josh Learner, lost in a ten-year-old’s private world, is standing at the edge of the road when a car comes racing around the bend. He is hit and instantly killed. The car speeds away. From this moment forward, Reservation Road becomes a harrowing countdown to the confrontation between two very different men. The hit-and-run driver is a small-town lawyer named Dwight Arno, a man in desperate need of a second chance. Dwight is also the father of a ten-year-old boy, who was asleep in the car the night Josh Learner was killed. In a gripping narrative woven from the voices of Ethan, Dwight, and Grace, Reservation Road tells the story of two ordinary families facing an extraordinary crisis–a book that reads like a thriller but opens up a world rich with psychological nuance and emotional wisdom. Reservation Road explores the terrain of grief even as it astonishes with unexpected redemption: powerful and wrenching and impossible to put down.

Review.

Reservation Road was less of a thriller than I had really expected from the synopsis. There was a certain element of one man trying to find his son’s killer, and another man trying to hide, but that was only a very minor element of the story when it came down to it. In fact the synopsis made me want to read the book less than I would have if it was presented in the way I read it.

This was a story of loss, and of love. Initially the loss of Josh and how it effects his family- particularly his parents. You can really imagine how his parents may feel, and although you see different perspectives from the family they don’t really hold together, which increases the sense that the family are falling apart, individually and as a unit. Sometimes I found myself almost wanting to shout at them to get their acts together because being able to see inside all their thoughts made you know that they could help each other if they tried. Indeed that they had the capacity to help one-another.

On the other side you see Dwight. A man terrified of loosing his own son who he as just started establishing a new relationship with after some time in prison and a split from his son’s mother. Dwight is so scared that something will go wrong, and he searches for love from his son. I think that is part of the reason that he drove on after hitting Josh- he fears he will loose his son all over again. It was quite clever how Burham Schwartz made you feel sympathetic for Dwight rather than angry at him for hiding. I think I preferred the story of Josh’s family, but Dwight’s story was compelling enough to want to read.

Corsair have also sent me the sequel to Reservation Road (Northwest Corner) to review. I am unsure of how wise a sequel is as Reservation Road feels like a stand-alone novel, however I am interested to see.

4/5

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What Alice Forgot- Liane Moriarty


Synopsis (from Amazon)

Imagine losing the most important ten years of your life …

Alice is twenty-nine.She adores sleep, chocolate, and her ramshackle new house.She’s newly engaged to the wonderful Nick and is pregnant with her first baby.

There’s just one problem.All that was ten years ago …

Alice has slipped in a step-aerobics class, hit her head and lost a decade.Now she’s a grown-up, bossy mother of three in the middle of a nasty divorce and her beloved sister Elisabeth isn’t speaking to her.This is her life but not as she knows it.

Clearly Alice has made some terrible mistakes.Just how much can happen in a decade?

Can she ever get back to the woman she used to be?

Review

I’ve had What Alice forgot on my wishlist for quite a long time after seeing it on lots of blogs. So when it came up as the Kindle Daily Deal recently I snapped it up.

I wasn’t expecting some great life changing read, but I was expecting something quick and easy, with a decent amount of emotion- it seemed like the perfect book to read alongside The Virgin Suicides (which I will be reviewing later this week). In that sense I did get what I expected, but it was a bit more chick-litty than I expected. There was more of a love element than I had really expected, and whilst I liked Nick I didn’t think that would be what Alice would have been most focused on in real life.  After all she forgot her kids but still had to look after them! Surely that would be of more importance to her.

I did like the characters, especially Alice’s Great-Grandmother.

I would say this is an enjoyable read, but don’t go into it expecting a lot of substance.

3/5

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Kindle (£3.99)

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Other Reviews:

DizzyC’s Little Book Blog

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Filed under Chicklit, Fiction review

Irv’s Odyssey: To the Light and Beyond- Irving H Podolsky


Disclaimer: I was given this book free of charge by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis (from Amazon)

Irv’s still employed at the mental hospital, a place where all the people who don’t “fit in” get jobs behind locked doors. It’s a crazy circus and Irv’s life is far from settling down. A free-loading porn stud and con man moves into our lad’s apartment, and the jerk won’t leave! It gets worse. Irv discovers the place where humanity hides it’s most shameful secret. And it’s not in the Buckhead Steak ‘n Brew where Irv becomes a salad boy/dishwasher. And it’s not at the Cloisters Restaurant where Irv get pushed into bussing tables while tripping on acid. And it’s not in Europe where he meets three people who change his life in ways he only read about in Sc-Fi novels and mystical books. Actually that “shameful secret” is no secret at all, yet only Irv wants to know it. Will our friend ever find his way back to Normal? Not yet.

Review.

Irv’s Odyssey: To the Light and Beyond is the second book in the Irv’s Odyssey trilogy. You can read my review of the first book here.

I did prefer the first Irv’s Odyssey book to this one. I can’t really put my finger on why. I think maybe a little less happened, but I also didn’t like Irv so much in this book. He seemed a little self-centred in this one, especially towards the end. He makes a big thing of having morals, and debates things with himself but doesn’t really seem to listen to his own debates!v He was more decisive in this book however, it’s almost as if he has gone in the opposite direction, rather than debating with little action he is focusing on the action.

The author did explain that the visual hallucinations/disturbances would be more understandable in this book when I had trouble with them in the last book. He was right. They were still a little confusing but they made more sense- and I can see that they were set up to have a significance in the final book.

3/5
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The Horologicon- Mark Forsyth


Disclaimer: I received The Horologicon free from the publisher via netgalley in exchange for an honest review

Synopsis (from amazon)

The Horologicon (or book of hours) gives you the most extraordinary words in the English language, arranged according to the hour of the day when you really need them. Do you wake up feeling rough? Then you’re philogrobolized. Pretending to work? That’s fudgelling, which may lead to rizzling if you feel sleepy after lunch, though by dinner time you will have become a sparkling deipnosophist. From Mark Forsyth, author of the bestselling The Etymologicon, this is a book of weird words for familiar situations. From ante-jentacular to snudge by way of quafftide and wamblecropt, at last you can say, with utter accuracy, exactly what you mean.

Review

I love, love, loved Mark Forsyth’s previous book The Etymologicon. So much so that I had to make a second post just to talk about all the words I tweeted about whilst reading it. I was super excited to read The Horologicon, and had planned to buy it when I went to a Mark Forsyth event which was meant to be last week (but was cancelled because apparently people in Birmingham don’t appreciate words *sob*), however when I saw it up on netgalley I snatched it up right away.

Maybe my expectations were too high but I didn’t like it as much.I think partially because it was in much bigger blocks. You couldn’t pick it up, read a paragraph and put it down again. That made it less tweetable, and also made it less easy to remember the words and information.

Maybe because it was on a less broad topic I found less of the words really interested me too, although I did tweet a couple which interested me. I did find I was telling other people about what I was reading rather than tweeting it because that broke my reading flow less. My boyfriend claimed that Forsyth made half the book up, but I think he’s  (my boyfriend) just being cynical.

I like the idea that you could skip between chapters depending on what time of the day it was, but it’s not very realistic. I did find occasionally my reading fit with what I was doing- and I think the experience was improved by that.

If you liked The Etymologicon you will probably like this one too, but if you haven’t read either I would recommend The Etymologicon over this one.

4/5

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Kindle (£5.99)

Hardback (£7.92)

Other Reviews:

I know a few people on my blogroll are reading The Horologicon, but no reviews yet 😦

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Filed under Language, non-fiction review

The Picture of Dorian Gray- Oscar Wilde


This book was read as part of The Rory List.

Synopsis (from Amazon)

The Picture of Dorian Gray is Oscar Wilde’s enduringly popular story of a beautiful and corrupt man and the portrait that reveals all his secrets.

Entranced by the perfection of his recently painted portrait, the youthful Dorian Gray expresses a wish that the figure on the canvas could age and change in his place. When his wish comes true, the portrait becomes his hideous secret as he follows a downward trajectory of decadence and cruelty that leaves its traces only in the portrait’s degraded image. Wilde’s unforgettable portrayal of a Faustian bargain and its consequences is narrated with his characteristic incisive wit and diamond-sharp prose. The result is a novel that is as flamboyant and controversial as its incomparable author.

Review

This book had been on my kindle waiting to be read for almost a year (I put it on at Christmas when I got my kindle), and had intended to read it long before that- since before I’ve had this blog in fact. It’s one of those books you feel you should read in a sense, a classic, yes, but one you feel may have a bit on a punch to it. Early Sci-fi if you will.

It wasn’t exactly what I expected, even though I didn’t have a great deal of expectations anyway. I did enjoy it generally speaking but I also found it rather slow, it took a while for anything of any real significance to happen, although once it did I started enjoying the story much more.

It had a certain scary element to it. An inevitability, and actually a death in it made The Shortlist’s most gruesome literary deaths (beware spoilers) recently (and I agree, it was horrific!).

I never really liked Dorian himself, even before all the bad things were happening. He was too nieve, and too easily influenced, but that made him rather an interesting character to read. I preferred Lord Henry, he wasn’t exactly a good person but he was certainly an entertaining character.

4/5

Buy it:

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Other Reviews:

Nylon Admiral

Kristi Loves Books

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Filed under Classics, Fiction review

It’s Monday. What are You Reading? 26/11/12


It’s Monday! What are you reading? is hosted by Bookjourneygo there to add your link 🙂

Currently Reading

All About Love: The Anatomy of An Unruly Emotion- Lisa Appignanesi. This is a book about the mind, psychology and love. So far she seems to be drawing a lot on personal experience, and there is only a very personal psychology element, but I am only about 18 pages in! I picked it up in a bookshop all the way back in January and started reading it right there but somehow never went back to it until now. It’s been a long time since I read a psychology book so I’m looking forward to this one.

Garden of Stones- Sophie Littleford I go an advance copy of this via netgalley. I have pretty much finished it already even though I only started it late on Saturday, but probably won’t post the review until February (when t is out in the UK). It’s the story of Lucy a Japanese-American living in America during the second world war. After Pearl Harbour Japanese-Americans as suspected of being spies and sent to detainment camps. Lucy and her mother are amongst these people. Garden of Stones follows Lucy through the camp and how she tries to reconstruct her life afterwards. So far it hasn’t been exactly as I had expected, but it is very moving and I am really enjoying it.

Finished Last Week.

The Picture of Dorian Gray- Oscar Wilde most people know the basics of this story. Dorian Gray has a portait of himself which ages whilst he stays young. I enjoyed this a fair bit despite expecting it to be a bit more sci-f based. It was scay in it’s own way, and some points were frankly disturbing. Indeed a death in The Picture of Dorian Gray was featured in Shortlist’s 40 Most Gruesome Deaths recently (beware spoilers!) and although I don’t agree with all of them, this one I do.

Reviews

The Thief- Fuminori Nakamura was a book I enjoyed but didn’t quite meet up to my expectations. It is the story of a Japanese pickpocket who manages to get himself involved in a political scandal.

Hurry Home Spider- David Crossley was my Children’s Hour pick last week. It follows a spider on his journey home, and all the dangers he encounters.

Added to the TBR

The Horologicon- Mark Forsyth I loved The Etymologicon when I read it a few weeks ago, and was super excited when my request to The Horologicon from netgalley was accepted. I can’t wait to get started on this one. As with The Etymologicon this book is all about words. This time about forgotten words.

The Complication of Sisters- Katherine Mariaca-Sullivan Was given to me by the author for review. It contains a number of short stories all about sisters.

 

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Filed under It's Monday! Waht are you reading?, Memes

It’s Monday. What are You Reading? 19/11/12


I’ve decided to participate in Bookjourney’s It’s Monday! What are you reading? again this week. Hopefully writing this post in advance (rather than at 11pm on the Monday night!) will mean I get to visit a few more different blogs this week.

Currently Reading

No changes from last week. I would say they are both heavy going books, but actually now I’ve started getting into The Picture of Dorian Gray it’s going pretty quickly.

All About Love: The Anatomy of An Unruly Emotion- Lisa Appignanesi. This is a book about the mind, psychology and love. So far she seems to be drawing a lot on personal experience, and there is only a very personal psychology element, but I am only about 18 pages in! I picked it up in a bookshop all the way back in January and started reading it right there but somehow never went back to it until now. It’s been a long time since I read a psychology book so I’m looking forward to this one.

The Picture of Dorian Gray- Oscar Wilde is another one which has been on the TBR pile for almost a year. I downloaded it free to my kindle when I got it (the kindle) in December, but it has been on my wishlist since I started The Rory List. In fact it was someone on BCF who started me wanting to read The Picture of Dorian Gray.

Finished Last Week.

None 😦

Reviews

Irv’s Odyssey: Lost in a Looking Glass- Irving H. Podolsky was a book I read as a review request from the author. I enjoyed it more than I had expected to and am looking forward to finding out what happens to Irv next. In this book he manages to fall into a job directing porn, before switching to work in a mental hospital.

Cockatoos- Quentin Blake was my Children’s Hour pick last week. Professor Dupont’s Cockatoos are so sick of him doing and saing the same thing every single day that they decide to play a trick on him and hide. We follow Professor Dupont as he searches for them

Added to the TBR

All She Ever Wanted- Roseline Noonan was given to me by Kensington via netgalley. For as long as she could remember Chelsea wanted a child. But when her child came along she struggled, her baby constantly cried, she felt nmb, and depressed. Then one day her baby disappears, and Chelsea can’t remember what happened.

Ignorance-Michele Roberts was given to me by Bloomsbury USA via netgalley. It’s another World War Two Novel. This one follows two friends, and the secrets they kept.

Irv’s Odyssey: To the Light and Beyond, and Seeking the Way Home- Irving H. Podolsky were both sent to me by the author. They continue the story started in Irv’s Odyssey: Lost in a Looking Glass.

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Filed under It's Monday! Waht are you reading?, Memes

It’s Monday. What are You Reading?


I’ve been thinking about joining in with one of these memes for a while seeing as I quite often seem to comment on them. A lot of people seem to participate in Bookjourney’s It’s Monday! What are you reading? so I thought I would try that one out. I don’t think I’ll participate every week, but we will see how it goes. Today seems like a good day to start seeing as I have the day off (yet I still didn’t decde to take part until almost 11 pm…barely any Monday left!)

Currently Reading

All About Love: The Anatomy of An Unruly Emotion- Lisa Appignanesi. This is a book about the mind, psychology and love. So far she seems to be drawing a lot on personal experience, and there is only a very personal psychology element, but I am only about 18 pages in! I picked it up in a bookshop all the way back in January and started reading it right there but somehow never went back to it until now. It’s been a long time since I read a psychology book so I’m looking forward to this one.

The Picture of Dorian Gray- Oscar Wilde is another one which has been on the TBR pile for almost a year. I downloaded it free to my kindle when I got it (the kindle) in December, but it has been on my wishlist since I started The Rory List. In fact it was someone on BCF who started me wanting to read The Picture of Dorian Gray.

Finished Last Week.

Irv’s Odyssey: Lost In a Looking Glass- Irv H. Polodsky is the story of a film graduate who wants nothing more than to make meaningful films but cannot get a break. Desperate for money he agrees to start directing porography, and when that becomes to much he makes a move to working as an aide in a mental hospital. My full review of this should be up tomorrow, but for now just know I fairly well enjoyed it.

The Thief- Fuminori Nakamura features a skilled pickpocket who manages to get himself into a mafia type gang and political intrigue. The book had some good things I hadn’t expected but also left out elements I expected. My review should be out later this week.

Reviews

The Etymologicon- Mark Forsyth was a book I loved. It’s all about words and how they came to be.

Come on Daisy- Jane Simmons was my Children’s Hour pick last week. It follows Daisy’s journey accross the pond which she gets so involved in that she looses sight of Mummy duck.

Added to the TBR

Reservation Road- John Burnham Schwartz was sent to me by the lovely people from Corsair for review. I have the sequel, Northwest Corner on the TBR pile from them already but wanted to read Reservation Road first. Follows the story of two people following a hit and run. It follows the father of the boy who is killed as he searches for the killer, and follows the hit and run drier himself.

Garden of Stones- Sophie Littlefield was given to me by Harlequin via netgalley. It follows the story of a Japanese-American woman and her daughter who are sent to Manzanar prison camp after the Japanese attack Pearl Harbour. I’m interested in reading this one as it isn’t a part of history you see covered that much, but it’s still from my favourite era for historical fiction to be based in.

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Filed under It's Monday! Waht are you reading?, Memes

The Etymologicon- Mark Forsyth


Synopsis (from Amazon)

The Etymologicon springs from Mark Forsyth’s Inky Fool blog on the strange connections between words. It’s an occasionally ribald, frequently witty and unerringly erudite guided tour of the secret labyrinth that lurks beneath the English language, taking in monks and monkeys, film buffs and buffaloes, and explaining precisely what the Rolling Stones have to do with gardening.

Review

I got a little bit addicted to the knowledge from this book while reading it, I miss tweeting the bits I found interesting. In fact I miss finding the interesting bits, hopefully following Forsyth’s Blog will help remedy that.

I really did enjoy this book. Anyone who follows my twitter feed can probably see I loved finding out about the words. (Soon was the Anglo-Saxon word for now, but humans are by nature procrastinators so the meaning changed. Did you know that?).

The writing was very conversational, which made it very easy to read and easy to understand.

I also loved how each chapter linked into the next by linking the words each chapter started and ended with. It did make it a little hard to put down however, which is not so good when you’re on a bus, or on your lunch break.

It also made me a little dead to the world, a number of times people started talking to me only for me not the notice.

Can’t wait to read Forsyth’s most recent offering, The Horologicon.

4.5/5

Buy it:

Kindle (£5.19)

Hardback (£7.40)

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Filed under Language, non-fiction review

Children’s Hour: Come On, Daisy!


Children’s Hour is a feature posted every Thursday here at Lucybird’s Book Blog. Children’s Hour is my time for reviewing children’s picture books. In my job in a nursery I encounter lots of children’s books, and these are the books I use for Children’s Hour.

You can find links to past Children’s Hour posts here.

I’d love to hear everybody’s experiences of the books I review too, and feel free to post me a link to your own reviews, I’d love to make this a bit interactive.

The image (if you were wondering) is taken from Shirley’s Hughes’ Alfie and Annie-Rose books which I loved as a child.

Daisy is a cute little duck with her own series of picture books. In Come on, Daisy! Daisy is so eager to explore the pond that she forgets to keep an eye on Mummy, and things start to turn scary. The children rather enjoyed this book, especially when Daisy met a frog, and they were both making lots of noises, and when they were trying to see what was scaring Daisy. It’s also gives a good way to talk to the kids about the importance of sticking with your parents when you are out and about. I hadn’t realised at the time but it actually fit well with a problem a parent had had earlier when his child wanted to run off in the car park.

Come On, Daisy! was also a previous silver award winner for the Smarties Prize.

Unfortunately Come On, Daisy! Does not seem to be being published anymore however you can buy it used from Amazon:

Paperback (from £0.01)

Hardback (from £0.01)

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Filed under Children's Hour, Fiction review, Picture books

My Dead Friend Sarah- Peter Rosch


Disclaimer: I received this book free of charge via netgalley in exchange for an honest review

Synopsis (from amazon)

Mere months into recovery, Max, an alcoholic with twisted control issues, meets Sarah – the same woman that for years he’s habitually dreamt will die after a botched abduction. “Doing the next right thing,” a popular AA phrase he’s picked up in the rooms, means befriending Sarah long enough to warn her and hope she takes him seriously. But when Sarah falls in love with Max, his newly sober thinking drives him to choose his overly devoted wife, and he abandons Sarah – even when it condemns her to death. When Sarah goes missing, the NYPD suspects Max’s dream may have been a pre-crime confession. The truth, all of it, lurks inside of Max, but only by drinking again does he recapture the nerve and clarity vital to free his wife, sponsor, and himself from a life imprisoned by lies.

Review

It’s taken me a little while to get around to actually writing this review so I don’t remember the story perfectly clearly, however I will do my best.

I enjoyed this story, it was pretty easy read but I don’t think it lost any thrill or quality from that. The chapters were split up into chapters narrated by Max and by Sarah so you could see two sides of the story. That is up until the moment of Sarah’s disappearance. It was quite clever how Sarah’s voice just stopped. It makes the reader sure that Max’s conviction that Sarah is dead is correct, but you still hope he is wrong.

You really feel as if you know the characters, and as such there is a certain level of inevitability.

4/5

Other Reviews:

If you have reviewed this book please leave me a link and I will add it here

Buy it:

Kindle (£2.60)

Paperback (£8.27)

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Filed under Crime, Fiction review, Mystery

Genus- Jonathan Trigell


Synopsis (from Amazon)

In the Britain of a few tomorrows time, physical perfection is commonplace and self improvement has become an extinct expression: all the qualities men and women could aspire to can be purchased prior to birth.

GENUS is a time of genetic selection and enrichment – life chances come on a sliding scale according to wealth. For some there is no money or choice, and an underclass has evolved; London’s King’s Cross, or The Kross as it is now known, has become a ghetto for the Unimproved. In The Kross, the natural, the dated, the cheap and the dull, live a brittle and unenviable existence. But unrest is growing; tension is mounting and a murderer is abroad in these dark quarters…

Review

I’ve heard a lot of good things about Boy A (which was Trigell’s first novel) so when Genus was sent to for review I thought why not? I’ve not actually read Boy A so I don’t know if it’s worth of the praise it has received but knowing about it probably did heighten my expectations a little when it came to reading Genus.

At first I really can’t say I was much of a fan. The chapters kept jumping from character to character- sometimes with a heading to say which character’s point of view you were seeing, but not always, which made things a little confusing. Plus at first there seemed to be few links between the characters which felt like I was reading lots of little stories based in the same world, this just added to the confusion. However as the story progressed the stories seemed to intertwine which reduced the confusion- in fact by the time all was revealed the only confusion I felt was the confusion I imagine the reader was meant to feel. That is the confusion about the murderer.

Tone wise Genus reminded me quite a lot of Super Sad True Love Story, which wasn’t really a bonus because I had been rather disappointed by that one, so it didn’t really build good associations. There were certain parallels in the novels too. Both set in a dystopian future which have a certain basis in reality that suggests that everything might come true.

Genus definitely has more meat to it though. The future presented is more scary. The idea of being a lower class just because you hadn’t been a designed child. The vicious circle of it all, the Unimproved couldn’t get the good jobs, so they couldn’t pay for their children to be Improved so if they had children they were condemning them to the same fate. The laws that were meant to protect the Unimproved just made it easier to know who was Unimproved and therefore discriminate against them.

We see this future through different eyes. Some Improved, some not. There’s a suggestion that even life for the Improved is not fantastic, but that nobody would want to be Unimproved, if if they were lucky when it came to natural gene selection. Mainly we follow Holman, an Unimproved of the most obvious type. A midget with legs which do not work as they should, and who is old for his age. In ways he is lucky, he has a natural talent for art which may one day get him out of The Kross, born to an Unimproved, but rich and beautiful mother who is happy to support him. But Holman seems entangled in the murders, is he next to go, or could he even be the murderer?

By the end I just wanted to find everything out, but to be honest most of the time I found I just wanted the story to be over already, it was only in about the last 30% of the book that I started actually getting interested, and the last 10% was pretty riveting. If you’re in for the long haul you may enjoy Genus, but I didn’t find the last section really made up for the rest.

3/5

Buy it:
Kindle (£5.31)
Paperback(£5.59)

Other Reviews:
Leeswammes’ Blog

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Filed under Contempory, Crime, Dystopian, Fiction review, Mystery

The Time Keeper- Mitch Alborn


Disclaimer: This book was provided to me free of charge via netgally in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis (from Amazon)

In this stunning new novel, the inventor of the world’s first clock is punished for trying to measure time. He is banished to a cave for centuries and forced to listen to the voices of all who come after him seeking more years for themselves. At last, with his soul nearly broken, Father Time is granted his freedom, along with a mission: a chance to redeem himself by teaching two earthly people the true meaning of time.

He returns to our world – now dominated by the obsession with time he so innocently began – and commences a journey with two unlikely partners: one a teenage girl who is about to give up on life, the other a wealthy old businessman who wants to live forever. To save himself, he must save them both. And stop the world to do so.

Gripping, simply told and filled with deep human truth, this unforgettable story will inspire readers everywhere to reconsider their own notions of time, how they spend it and how precious it truly is.

Review

The Time Keeper has everything you would expect from Mitch Alborn, a bit of sadness, a bit of thoughtfulness, a feel good ending and the ability to move.

At first I wasn’t that keen. It wasn’t bad. I just felt that more could have been made of how ‘Father Time’ invented time. In fact I barely even saw it as him inventing time.

One the more modern side of the story got going however my interest increased. I had a bit of a love hate relationship with the teenage girl. She was naive, and a bit of a drama queen, but I understood her. She seemed like a real teenager (and not the ‘popular’ type girls you so often get in books and films.

I didn’t like the old man at all though. He was so self-centred, even when it came to the ones he supposedly loved.

I think maybe it was good to have a hate element to those two characters however, it made the feel good element better.

What was best however was when Father Time came to our modern world. It was interesting to see the world through his eyes, and it was when the book really got going.

If you’re a fan of Alborn you should enjoy this one, and you may be interested if you are a fan of historical fiction too. If you’re not sure at first it is worth the perseverance.

3.5/5

The Time Keeper is released on 4th September in Hardback and on the Kindle. You can pre-order it on Amazon now:

Hardback (£7.40)

Kindle (£5.99)

Paperback (£6.99)- Date to be announced

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Filed under Contempory, Fantasy, Fiction review, Historical

Children’s Hour: Not Now Bernard


Children’s Hour is a new feature here at Lucybird’s Book Blog every Thursday where I’m looking at children’s picture books. As I work in a nursery I get plenty of opportunities to look at picture books, and to see what the kids think of them so it really makes sense to use those experiences.

I’d love to hear everybody’s experiences of the books I review too, and feel free to post me a link to your own reviews, I’d love to make this a bit interactive.

The image (if you were wondering) is taken from Shirley’s Hughes’ Alfie and Annie-Rose books which I loved as a child.

Our Toddlers are really into monsters at the moment so I took Not Now Bernard (along with Two Monsters) into work with me. They didn’t really get Two Monsters, but they loved Not Now Bernard.

Not Now Bernard is the story of a boy, and a monster. Bernard tries to tell his parents that there is a monster in the garden but a series of household disasters mean that they don’t really listen. Consequently Bernard gets eaten by the monster…and the monster ends up ‘becoming’ Bernard.

I used to love this book when I was a kid and I’m glad the kids still enjoy it. They were excited to read a book about a monster even before we started. Once the monster appears they love telling him off (“ooomm, we don’t bite people”, “He broke Bernard’s toy. Bernard’s going to be sad now” “We don’t climb on the TV at nursery”.), and the like spotting the various accidents (“Look he hurt his thumb” “She spilt the water” “He’s sad because the monster bit him”). As an adult it’s quite an amusing read and (as with quite a few David McKee books, especially I Hate my Teddy Bear) there’s a bit more to the story, shown in the pictures, than I had realised as a child. I always noticed that the Dad had banged his hand with the hammer, but I never noticed the Mum spilling the water, or dripping paint on the floor before and it sort of explains why they were a bit busy to talk to Bernard.

David McKee is probably best known for the Elmer books, but while I like Elmer I prefer his monster books!

Buy Not Now Bernard:

Paperback (£3.54)

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Filed under Children's Hour, Fiction review, Picture books

Charlotte Street- Danny Wallace


Image from amazon

Synopsis (from amazon)

It all starts with a girl… (because yes, there’s always a girl…)

Jason Priestley (not that one) has just seen her. They shared an incredible, brief, fleeting moment of deep possibility, somewhere halfway down Charlotte Street.

And then, just like that, she was gone – accidentally leaving him holding her old-fashioned, disposable camera, chock full of undeveloped photos…

And now Jason – ex-teacher, ex-boyfriend, part-time writer and reluctant hero – faces a dilemma. Should he try and track The Girl down? What if she’s The One? But that would mean using the only clues he has, which lie untouched in this tatty disposable…

It’s funny how things can develop…

Review.

A while ago I read a review of Charlotte Street on Ellie’s blog; Curiosity Killed the Bookworm. Ellie loved Charlotte Street and I just had to add it to my wishlist. Well the other week I managed to get myself stuck in Waterstone’s. I had intended just to browse. I told myself I could buy two books from the buy one get one half-price selection, but only if one was from The Rory List. I didn’t see any books from the Rory list in that selection so I decided to leave. Unfortunately when I reached the door I saw that the rain was coming down like a Monsoon. I mean, I couldn’t go out in that could I? So I was stuck in Waterstone’s, and my will-power was wearing down…I had no choice. So I came out with Charlotte Street and Scarlett Thomas’ Going Out. Both books on my wishlist, neither on The Rory List.

Anyway this is meant to be a review, right? Not the story of how I got forced to buy books!

Charlotte Street was one of those books that made me both sad and satisfied to have finished. It’s been a long time since I last got this feeling from finishing a book. I wanted it to carry on, even though I knew it had definitely reached a conclusion.

I liked the characters, especially Dev. I quite often thought they were idiots but that just made them more realistic. Jason was certainly the flawed hero- if you can call someone whose behaviour borders on stalker-ish a hero! He did sometimes doubt whether he should be behaving the way he was, but there was always a friend to put him on the ‘right’ path, and I loved that.

In some ways you could actually call Charlotte Street a coming of age story. Maybe it was later in life than the typical coming of age story but Jason (and actually the other major characters too) certainly learnt something from the beginning of the book to the end and entered a new stage of life.

Wallace’s writing style reminded me a lot of Nick Hornby’s books, especially High Fidelity. Flawed hero- check, love interest- check, geeky friend- check, shop- check. It wasn’t a copy my any means but there were a lot of parallels. Amusing but in a real-life way rather than an artificial humour.

I had meant to read something by Danny Wallace for a long time, in fact since reading Are You Dave Gorman? when I was at school, and finding out Danny Wallace had written solo books, but somehow it hasn’t happened until now. This is probably the worst book to start on seeing as it’s Wallace’s first fiction book, but it has made me more eager to read something else by him.

5/5

Other Reviews:

Ellie @ Curiosity Killed the Bookworm

If you have reviewed this book and would like me to add it here please leave me a comment with a link and I will add it.

Buy it:

Paperback (£7.79)

Kindle (£7.40)

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Filed under Contempory, Fiction review, Humour, Romantic

The Child Who- Simon Lelic


Image from Amazon

Synopsis (from amazon)

A quiet English town is left reeling when twelve-year-old Daniel Blake is discovered to have brutally murdered his schoolmate Felicity Forbes. For provincial solicitor Leo Curtice, the case promises to be the most high profile – and morally challenging – of his career. But as he begins his defence Leo is unprepared for the impact the public fury surrounding Felicity’s death will have on his family – and his teenage daughter Ellie, above all. While Leo struggles to get Daniel to open up, hoping to unearth the reasons for the boy’s terrible crime, the build-up of pressure on Leo’s family intensifies. As the case nears its climax, events will take their darkest turn. For Leo, nothing will ever be the same again .

>Review

This book was not what I expected. Maybe partly because I hadn’t re-read the synopsis before I started reading the actual book (although that is only usually something I do if I can’t decide what to read.

It wasn’t that the book was bad, it’s just it really didn’t reach it’s full potential. I expected much more about Daniel, and his reasoning behind the murder, and that was the part I was really interested in. Actually the whole Daniel thin felt like it had been skimmed over and the focus was much more on Leo and the effect the case had on him and his family.

It’s not even that I didn’t find the Leo side of things interesting I did, especially after the main event happened, but it pretty much made the fact that a child was involved in the case pointless.

There was a certain crime/mystery element but I would it rather predictable, so really that’s didn’t keep me hooked.

It was an easy read however, and interesting enough to keep me reading.

3/5

Other Reviews:

Farm Lane Books

If I’ve missed your review add a comment and I’ll add your link

Buy it:
Kindle (£3.99)

Paperback (£4.71)
Hardback (£9.09)

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Filed under Contempory, Crime, Fiction review, Mystery

Ninepins- Rosy Thornton


Image from Amazon

Disclaimer: I was given this book free of charge in exchange for an honest review

Synopsis (from Amazon)

Deep in the Cambridgeshire fens, Laura is living alone with her 12-year old daughter Beth, in the old tollhouse known as Ninepins. She’s in the habit of renting out the pumphouse, once a fen drainage station, to students, but this year she’s been persuaded to take in 17-year-old Willow, a care-leaver with a dubious past, on the recommendation of her social worker, Vince. Is Willow dangerous or just vulnerable? It’s possible she was once guilty of arson; her mother’s hippy life is gradually revealed as something more sinister; and Beth is in trouble at school and out of it. Laura’s carefully ordered world seems to be getting out of control. With the tension of a thriller, NINEPINS explores the idea of family, and the volatile and changing relationships between mothers and daughters, in a landscape that is beautiful but – as they all discover – perilous.

Review

Note on review: where links are gathered around an author’s name these lead to reviews of the author’s books.

I’ve had this book waiting for review for a while, when I got it I intended to make it my next read in paperback, but I was really struggling with The Good Angel of Death (which is weird because I normally love Kurkov) and ended up reading it for more than a month without getting very far. Eventually I decided I was in a bit of a slump (I started having trouble with the book I was reading on kindle too), I read Olivia Joules, and then Big Fish before returning to The Good Angel of Death but still couldn’t really get anywhere with it. So I decided to read Ninepins, partly because I felt a little guilty for leaving it so long (usually review novels go straight to the top of my pile) and partly because I remembered it as something that sounded easy to read.

Well in a way my memories were off. I was imagining something vaguely chick-litty, although maybe more sophisticated. I was wrong. Ninepins wasn’t hard to read, but it was far from chick-lit like too. Actually it kind of reminded me of Kate Morton. There was the same kind of atmosphere built using the surroundings (a little gothic at times in fact, which I always like in a novel). There was also the family issue centre and hints of a big secret, although actually the secret, while never revealed fully was quite easy to guess at.

I thought that the way Thornton was able to make you feel about the characters, especially Beth and Laura, was clever. Beth was a pretty stereotypical teenager, not exactly a rebel but certainly testing some boundaries and trying to gain a bit much independence. Laura (whose voice the novel was told in) was understandable frustrated by this but despite the fact that you should be siding with Laura I found actually I had a lot of sympathy for Beth and found that Laura was a bit stifling. In fact at points I even found she was a little stifling to Willow despite the fact she was only meant to be Willow’s landlady. That didn’t mean that I didn’t see her viewpoint, or feel sympathy for her but sometimes I just wanted her to relax and let go, or let someone else take responsibility for once.

I did really enjoy it however. I think it’s one fans of Linda Gillard would enjoy, and (maybe to a slightly lesser extent, as it’s less of a mystery and more of a family novel) Kate Morton’s fans may well appreciate it too.

4.5/5

Other Reviews:
There are no other reviews of Ninepins on my blog list. If you have reviewed it feel free to leave me a link in comments and I will add it here.

Buy it:
Paperback (£6.74)
Kindle (£6.40)

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Filed under Contempory, Fiction review, Mystery

27 (Twenty- Seven): Six Friends, One Year- R.J. Heald


Disclaimer: I was given this book free of charge in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis (from Amazon)

Your 27th year is a turning point.
Kurt Cobain. Amy Winehouse. Janis Joplin.
They died at 27.

Six friends reunite in London. From the outside their lives are enviable; from the new father, to the rich entrepreneur to the carefree traveller. But underneath their facades they are starting to unravel. Dave is made redundant, Renee’s marriage is crumbling and Katie is forced to return home to her parents after six years abroad. In a world fuelled by social media and ravaged by recession, the friends must face up to the choices they must make to lead the lives they truly want to live.

Review.

There was something very One Day about 27. A sort of everyday so far has come to this inevitability. Kind of the same predictability too, but because there were lots of different stories I didn’t mind that so much. Or maybe just because I had expected less from 27- One Day was so popular I expected to really like it. I did think I would like 27 but I wasn’t eager for it in the same way.

I knew 27 would be an easy read, and I wasn’t really expecting something…substantial…, it’s part of the reason I picked it in fact because I’ve been having a bit of trouble getting into books recently and I wanted something that would be easy.

Actually I enjoyed it more than I had anticipated. I think actually I am just about at the right stage in my life to read it, I identified quite well with some of the characters, and I think a lot of people my age would. It’s true that there are a lot of weddings and babies on my facebook feed now. You can’t helping thinking that everyone else is getting on with their lives while you’re living with your parents in a job you could have got without going to uni. Of course I have lots of friends in the same position but facebook doesn’t really show that does it?

I suppose that’s what I liked about 27 really. It was a kind of comparison of facebook life and real life, I man you don’t put your bad moments on facebook really, not in the same way anyway. Sam’s story I found particularly good at showing this.

4/5

Other Reviews:

There are no other reviews of 27 on my blog list. Let me know if you have written one and I will add it here.

Buy it:

Kindle (£2.99)

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Filed under Contempory, Fiction review