Tag Archives: Sebastian Faulks

Deals of the Moment- August 2016 (Part 1)


Every month amazon has a set of kindle monthly deals. Whenever there are deals of interest I post on here. Links are associate links but money goes back into the blog.

So I’m going to briefly talk about the books I’ve read which are on offer, and those that I have bought myself. Why I liked them/bought them, and what they are about. End links are to the amazon page, any other links are to my reviews.

I have 28 tabs of deals open this month so I’m breaking this post into three parts; this part (part 1) is books I’ve already read, part two (hopefully tomorrow) will be books I own/can borrow but haven’t read yet, and part 3 will be books I’m interested in. My computer is going to the macshop tomorrow (l0ts of little problems) so I will try and get part 3 out on Friday but we will see how it goes.

Please note prices are correct at time of publishing and may be subject to change.


Still Alice- Lisa Genova

I really enjoyed this rather sad novel told by a narrator who has early onset dementia. It’s very touching, and language wise an easy read but also rather emotionally difficult

You can buy it…here (only £0.99)


Fahrenheit 451- Ray Bradbury

To be honest I didn’t love this classic about book burning, but there were some points which made it worth a read.

You can buy it,,,here (only £1.99)


The Rosie Project- Graeme Simsion

I loved this funny, quirky, sweet book about a clever man who thinks he has found a clever way to find love. It was so much more than I expected

You can buy it…here (only £1.99)


Mockingbird- Kathryn Erkstien

A beautiful book about a girl with Asperger’s whose brother is killed. The normal grief of that situation added to her autism.

Buy it…here (only £1.39)

 


Girl at the Lion D’or- Sebastian Faulks

This book is actually the first in the trilogy which ends with, what is probably Faulks’ most well known novel, Birdsong. It’s probably my least favourite of the trio but it’s a nice little book about a girl who starts working at a slightly seedy hotel. I read the series in the wrong order and it does stand well as a novel on its own.

Buy it…here (only £1.99) Buy the others in the series, Charlotte Grey, and Birdsong, for £4.99 each.


 

The Secret Scripture- Sebastian Barry

Since reading The Secret Scripture I have read a lot of other Sebastian Barry novels, and none are as good as this one, I loved this one. About a woman who has spent most of her life in a mental institution

Buy it…here (£1.09)


Clovenhoof series- Heide Good and Iain M. Grant

Funny, political-ish books about satan being expelled from Heaven and being sent to live in Birmingham. I love these books, I’ve read 1-3 (and the short) and ordered number 4 when I saw it on offer, number 5 is out too, but that’s not on offer.

Buy one, two, three, four (only £0.99 each)


The Elements of Eloquence- Mark Forsyth

I love Mark Forsyth, his books about language are interesting and funny, I recommend them to everyone.

Buy it…here (only £1.19)


The Pact- Jodi Picoult

I love Jodi Picoult, I’ve read all her books. This one is about a boy and a girl who apparently had a suicide pact, or did the boy call the girl?

Buy it…here (£1.99)


Look Who’s Back- Timur Vermes

Hitler wakes up in the modern day. Everything is wrong, he must find his power again. Satirical, funny, a bit on the edge.

Buy it...here (only £0.99)


Middlesex- Jeffrey Eugenides

This is one of my favourite books. A sort of coming of age novel, kind of hard to describe, but there’s a family secret involved and I can’t tell you because that will spoil the story. Just read it

Buy it…here (only £1.99)


 

The Shock of the Fall- Nathan Filler

An incident happened, it effected the whole of one man’s life

Buy it…here (only £1.99)


Eleanor and Park- Rainbow Rowell

Eleanor is the new girl, she’s not fitting in great, but then she meets Park. A nice little love story.

Buy it…here (only £1.99)


The Beach- Alex Garland

I was surprised how much I enjoyed this book about a secret island, and the things that happened there.

Buy it…here (only £1.99)


How to Build A Girl- Caitlin Moran

Yay Caitlin Moran. How to Build a Girl is a little too autobiographical to feel like novel, but I still loved it.

Buy it…here (only £1.99)

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under general

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:

Kindle (£9.49)

Hardback (£12.00)

Paperback: pre-order (£7.19)

Other Reviews:

If you ave written a review of this book leave your link in comments and I will add it here.

2 Comments

Filed under Contempory, Fiction review, Historical, Short story

A Week in December- Sebastian Faulkes


Image from Goodreads

Synopsis (from Amazon)

London, the week before Christmas, 2007. Over seven days we follow the lives of seven major characters: a hedge-fund manager trying to bring off the biggest trade of his career; a professional footballer recently arrived from Poland; a young lawyer with little work and too much time to speculate; a student who has been led astray by Islamist theory; a hack book-reviewer; a schoolboy hooked on skunk and reality TV; and a Tube train driver whose Circle Line train joins these and countless other lives together in a daily loop.

With daring skill, the novel pieces together the complex patterns and crossings of modern urban life. Greed, the dehumanising effects of the electronic age and the fragmentation of society are some of the themes dealt with in this savagely humorous book. The writing on the wall appears in letters ten feet high, but the characters refuse to see it – and party on as though tomorrow is a dream.

Sebastian Faulks probes not only the self-deceptions of this intensely realised group of people, but their hopes and loves as well. As the novel moves to its gripping climax, they are forced, one by one, to confront the true nature of the world they inhabit.

Review

I was surprisingly sad to finish A Week in December in that for most of the book I didn’t actually enjoy it that much. It was a real disappointment as I usually really enjoy Sebastian Fawkes work. I have found that some of his novels have been slow to start before but this one was really slow to start, I didn’t start to get properly into it until there were less than 100 pages left. I possibly would have even given up by my 100 page cut off mark if it wasn’t for the fact that it being a Fawkes novel gave me hop that it would get good.

It took me a long time to get all the characters sorted out in my head, and even at the end I was getting Veals and errr what’s his name the lawyer politician mixed up, err Lance that’s it. And I’m still not sure who Roger is. It doesn’t help that within the first few pages there was a great big long list of characters who would be invited to a dinner party, most of whom barely featured in the rest of the book.

In fact there were only two characters who were distinct right from the onset, the tube driver Jenni, and the Islamic student, Hassan. As far as Jenni went it still took me some time to get into her story but she felt like the most genuine of the characters, and once she met Gabriel I started enjoying her story more. Hassan’s storyline was the most interesting, and I expected much more of it [highlight for spoiler]because of that it was somewhat of an anti-climax. I expected the climax of the story to be him blowing up the hospital, where a number of the characters would be. I kind of liked him so in a way I am glad he didn’t but it did make the end less exciting.

Most of the other storylines held little interest for me. I found Veals to be a horrible little man but his story only held interest for me in relation to his wife and son. I really could have done without his who financial storyline, I found it generally went over my head and was pretty boring. Plus it took up far too much of the book. I didn’t like RT either, he was such a grumpy, self-satisfied, snob, I didn’t really care what happened to him and cared even less what he thought. I almost thought RT was included just so Fawkes could have a dig at his critics. I did like Gabriel as a character but his story was not very distinct, he didn’t really mean anything except in relation to Jenni.

In some ways A Week in December felt more like a social commentary than a novel. Fawkes talked about finance, and bankers. ‘Reality’ television. Books. The internet. The culture of blame. The rich/poor divide. Teenagers. Parents. Religion. Race. And immigration. Maybe he could have written a good non-fiction book on Britain or London today but I really don’t think it made a good novel.

2/5

5 Comments

Filed under Contempory, Fiction review

Book Blogger Hop


Again I’m taking part in the Book Blogger Hop, which is a great event taking place every week that helps book blogggers to find one another. To have a look just click the picture. If you’re here from over there welcome! I hope you enjoy looking around, feel free to comment anywhere and pop in to say hi here- I promise to visit your blog in return.

As usual I will be posting my best finds on Monday.

Over the last couple of weeks Jennifer has been asking questions so we can get to know each other better this week she’s asking about our favourite authors and why they are our favourites.

I have a few favourites. JK Rowling because I just love the Harry Potter books, they completely take you into a different world- it’s escapism, and it’s what really brought me to the online world (for more see my me and books section). Jasper Fforde because his books are so clever, there are all types of references that readers like us will appreciate, plus his books are funny and exciting. Sebastian Fawkes because he can really take you into another time and get inside another person’s head. Birdsong remains one of my favourite historical fiction books even though I read it when I was back in school, and Engleby actually made me like a potential murderer. Haruki Murakami, because his writing is so beautiful that it’s almost poetic and his stories are like nothing I’ve ever read before.

13 Comments

Filed under general

The Third Angel- Alice Hoffman


Cover of "The Third Angel: A Novel"

Cover of The Third Angel: A Novel

Synopsis (from Amazon)

This haunting, poignant and addictive story travels effortlessly across three generations and through time. Unravelling the years from the present to the 1950s, “The Third Angel” is a compelling novel, set mainly in London, about girls and women who make the wrong choices and have to live with the sometimes unbearable consequences.”The Third Angel” opens in London in the present day, when an envious sibling comes to her sister’s wedding. Their mother’s illness cast a shadow over their childhood, and both Madeline and Allie are still searching for something missing in their lives. Back in the Swinging Sixties, the bridegroom’s conventional English mother, Frieda, behaves in a wholly unconventional way, and the ghosts of that era still haunt all their lives and a Knightsbridge hotel. Even before that, the seeds of tragedy are sown in the Fifties, when twelve-year-old Lucy first visits London and the same hotel. Precocious, impatient, wise beyond her years, Lucy becomes a go-between for two star-crossed lovers and then holds herself agonisingly responsible for what happens…

Review

It’s a bit difficult to talk about this book without giving away important bits of the plot. I shall try, but be ready for a few blanked out spoilers! I’ve only read one book by Alice Hoffman before, Blue Diary, which is probably better known, but I preferred this one. I found it read a little like Sebastian Fawkes’ earlier work (like The Girl at the Lion D’or, especially in the parts set at the hotel). Not quite up to the standard of Fawkes, but getting there. It made me think a fair bit too, and I felt quite connected with some of the characters. My favourite was probably Lucy [highlight for spoiler] (at least when she was young), she kind of reminded me of myself but maybe more how I would want to be, more confident. I liked Frieda too. I liked how she was so independent, and how she had so many hopes [highlight for spoiler] I was almost disappointed when she gave up on her life in London, but I don’t think it was really her, more a kind of teenage rebellion. I think in the end the life she had was the one that would have made her happy rather than carrying on as she was. I had mixed feelings about Paul, or at least about his actions. [Highlight for spoiler]When I found out why he was trying to drive Allie away at first I thought he was a coward for not just breaking up with her. After a while I began to think that actually he was quite romantic, trying to make it easier for her to leave, and maybe to make it easier on her when he died. And he kept trying to get her to escape right to the very end. He didn’t want her to suffer, even when he most needed her.

4/5

Leave a comment

Filed under Contempory, Fiction review

The Fatal Englishman- Sebastian Faulks


Synopsis (from Amazon)

Christopher Wood, a beautiful young Englishman, decided to be the greatest painter the world had seen. He went to Paris in 1921. By day he studied, by night he attended the parties of the beau monde. He knew Picasso, worked for Diaghilev and was a friend of Cocteau. In the last months of his 29-year life, he fought a ravening opium addiction to succeed in claiming a place in history of English painting.

Richard Hilary, confident, handsome and unprincipled, flew Spitfires in the Battle of Britain before being shot down and horribly burned. He underwent several operations by the legendary plastic surgeon, A H McIndoe. His account of his experiences, “The Last Enemy”, made him famous, but not happy. He begged to be allowed to return to flying, and died mysteriously in a night training operation, aged 23.

Jeremy Wolfenden was born in 1936, the son of Jack, later Lord Wolfenden. Charming, generous and witty, he was the cleverest Englishman of his generation, but left All Souls to become a hack reporter. At the height of the Cold War, he was sent to Moscow where his louche private life made him the plaything of the intelligence services. A terrifying sequence of events ended in Washington where he died at the age of 31.

Review

I’m going to split this review into 4 sections, one general section and one for each story or ‘life’. It just makes it a bit easier to organise my thoughts.

General

Again this is a book which Waterstones put in the wrong section of their store, which kind of disappointed. Maybe they did it purposefully because Sebastian Faulks is better known for his fiction (his most famous novel being Birdsong) but this book is in fact a sort of biography (I say sort of because there are really 3 biographies). This meant I bought it expecting Faulks’ normal style, and this is where I found the book a bit of a let down. I usually really enjoy Faulks’ books, and Birdsong is amongst my favourites, so I had pretty high hopes for this one. While I found the stories themselves quite interesting I found the style was not up to Faulks’ usual standards. At times is read like a list which had just been joined together with a few conjunctions and a bit of punctuation. I think this was partly because, being a biography, there was little on how the ‘characters’ (I say for want of a better word) felt, understandable but I found it jarred with the story-like style of the writing.
After a while my problems with the writing style did become less important as I got more interested in the stories.
The only thing which wasn’t reduced by my interest in the stories was that there was a sense that Faulks’ wanted to use all th information he had read while researching for the book, this meant that in parts there did just seem to be lists of information which wasn’t really needed and actually extended each section beyond the point where you would have expected it to finish.

Christopher Wood

Photobucket

Of all the accounts this was the one which interested me the least. While Wood’s life was more interesting than the majority of the population I didn’t really become interested until the section was almost finished, in fact I almost gave up within the first 50 pages, all that really kept me going was wanting to know how he died (although I did get interested before that point)! Really the only thing it did was made me intrigued to see some of his art work. I have posted one of his more famous pieces above.

Richard Hilary

Factually this was my favourite section. I’ve always been pretty interested in history (at one point I was planning on taking a history degree) and particularly the period around the two world wars. However I’ve never really known that much about the RAFs role in the second world war (in fact I think my only knowledge comes from a story I read as a teenager which was more focused on the work on the ground than in the air) so I found it really interesting to find out about what it was like to be a pilot and getting into the RAF. I also found the information about early plastic surgery really interesting. This was also the section I found easiest to read, because one of the sources was Hilary’s own book (which was more or less an autobiography) Faulks was able to include more information about how Hilary felt than he had been able to for the other two sections.

Jeremy Wolfenden

Character wise this was my favourite section. Wolfenden seemed to spend most of his life trying to be controversial, and various events made things all the more crazy. It seemed there was always stuff going on in his life. This section also partially took place in Moscow during the Cold War so I found it historically interesting too although it had less historical content (in terms of world history rather than personal history) than the section on Richard Hilary.

3/5

2 Comments

Filed under Biography, History, non-fiction review