Category: Book Review (Page 34 of 36)

Review: Charlaine Harris – Shakespeare’s Landlord

photo-16As I expected, I read this book very quickly (especially compared to my last book). And also as expected, it was great!

I already knew that I loved Charlaine Harris and this book was awesome just like the others. This one was slightly different to the other two sets that I have read, as it had nothing to do with the supernatural, just a straight-up murder mystery. I think this set is one of her earlier sets, written in the mid 90s.

As with all of the main characters in her books, Harris always gives them an ‘interesting’ back story, and Lily’s was definitely interesting. I won’t go into too much detail here in case you want to read the book, but I was quite shocked when I read that chapter, there was a lot more violence than I had expected.

I think my favourite part of this book was the narrative style, it made it very hard to put down. I picked it up this morning, and before I knew it an hour had passed and I had read over 100 pages.

I’ve never really read murder mystery books before, so I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect, and spent most of the book trying to guess the culprit. In the end, I was totally wrong. I kind of liked that though, it’s much better when books aren’t predictable.

The end of the book was left quite wide open with regards to Lily’s personal life and her future in the town, so I’m interested to read the next book and see where it goes.


Review: Jonathan Franzen – The Corrections

photo-14So this book was the first of my 100 book challenge, and it took a lot longer than it should to read it, serves me right for picking such a long book to start off with! I need to read one book every 3.5 days on average, but here we are on the 6th January, and I’ve only just finished it.

It took me a long time to get into this book, and I found it really hard to keep up at some points. The book jumped around a lot between the present time and the past, with no indication that the time had changed. I found myself a lot of times having to go back a couple of pages to make sure that I hadn’t missed something obvious.

My favourite books are the ones where I feel connected to the characters, but I just didn’t get any kind of connections to the characters, except Alfred and Enid, who were just such a lovely couple that you couldn’t help but feel sympathy for them and their situation.

As well as jumping forward and backward through time, there was also a lot of switching between characters, so at times it was hard to get a good flow from the story. Most of the book seemed to be about the back story for each of the characters, and about halfway through the book, it suddenly switched to a set of people that hadn’t been mentioned for the last 300 pages. I found it quite strange that it switched so suddenly without an explanation, although it did all became clearer later.

The ending of the book really disappointed me. After the copious amount of detail in the rest of the book, the ending seemed very rushed, and I was left with a feeling like after I read the last Harry Potter book – it felt like the last chapter was added on as an afterthought. The book was already at over 600 pages, so I don’t think it would have harmed to just add a little more detail.

All in all, I would say the book was okay, but definitely not one of my favourites, and probably not one that I will read again for a while.


Review: Emma Donoghue – Room

Room - Emma Donoghue

This book definitely lived up to all expectations! I started reading it two days ago, and I finished it at lunch time today. It was one of the best books I’ve read for a long time, I couldn’t put it down. The book was written in such a way that you felt like you were connected to the characters, so there were more than a few teary moments.

The book is written from the perspective of 5 year old Jack, who has lived in ‘Room’ all his life. His mother was kidnapped by ‘Old Nick’ when she was 19, and rather than tell Jack, she let him believe that Room was the world, and everything else was just TV. The way that Emma Donoghue described the relationship between Jack and his Mum was simply wonderful, I could almost feel the love coming off the pages.

About half way through the book, they hatch a plan to escape. I started reading this part while I was on my lunch break at work, and I was so annoyed when my  hour was up. During the escape and after, I couldn’t stop turning the pages, I just had to know what was going to happen next. I had my heart in my mouth more than a few times!

Once they had escaped, I was unsure about how the story would go, but the book was so well written that it felt like you were on the journey with them. All the new experiences that they have to go through are so well voiced through Jack, all the new people he has to meet, and getting to know ‘Outside’.

When it got to about 30 pages away from the end, I was really intrigued to see how the book would end, as this is where I am usually most disappointed by books, but I loved the way that Donoghue chose to end the book. The trip back to the room and Jack saying goodbye to everything totally made me cry like a little girl, but for me, that’s the sign of a great book!


Now Reading: Emma Donoghue – Room

photo-12The Auschwitz Violin was a really good book, too short for my liking though – one of those books that you just don’t want to end. The story is about a man who has been taken to Auschwitz and is pretending to be a carpenter. When they find out that he is a Luthier, he is set the task of creating a replica of a Stradivarius violin. If he doesn’t do it fast enough, he will be sent to be used for all manner of horrific things that happened in Auschwitz. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes reading books about World War Two.

My next book is one that my cousin Hannah gave me at Christmas – Room by Emma Donoghue. I’m already 55 pages into it and I love it. The story is a bit strange at the moment, but I’m intrigued to see where it’s going to go.

Now Reading: Maria Àngels Anglada – The Auschwitz Violin

I got a few books for Christmas this year:

  • The Auschwitz Violin by Maria Àngels Anglada
  • Room by Emma Donaghue
  • Freedom by Jonathan Franzen
  • The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen
  • The Lily Bard series by Charlaine Harris

photo-11It was a tough choice to decide which to read first, so I’ve decided to read them in the order I opened them. First up is The Auschwitz Violin by Maria Àngels Anglada, which Cameron bought for me. I love reading books about the war; two of my favourite books are World War Two (The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas and The Diary of Anne Frank). I’ve got two days off, then it’s back to work for 3 days and then a 3 day weekend, so I’ve got plenty of time to get through a couple of books.

Now it’s time to take a look at the January Sale email from The Book People. I had the catalogue through the door a couple of days ago, and there were some really good deals in there.

I think someone needs to confiscate my credit card…

Now Reading: Alexandra Potter – Be Careful What You Wish For

photo-9The last book I read was typical chick lit – totally predictable with a little twist in the middle, but great all the same – just what I would expect from Belinda Jones. I’ve read a lot of books recently that are a bit different from my normal style, so it was nice to get back to something a little bit easier to read for a change.

And I’m carrying that on with the next book I’m reading – Be Careful What You Wish For by Alexandra Potter. I actually started it yesterday and I recognised the first 10 or so pages, so I think it must  be one of the books I’ve started in the past that I just didn’t get into and left for later. I’ve got a bit further now though and it seems quite good so far. After this I think I’m going to give Anna Karenina a try, so this will be a nice laid-back book beforehand. Although saying that, I had a lot of books on my Christmas list, so if Santa is nice to me, I may have a lot of books jumping to the top of my reading list!

Now Reading: Belinda Jones – The Paradise Room

photo-8I really loved the last book I read (Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck), I can’t believe that I’ve never read it until now! I loved the relationship between George and Lennie, so the ending of the book really shocked me. I don’t want to say too much in case you want to read it yourself, but I had pictured a few ways which this book could end, and I was way off with all of them! It was a short book which I just couldn’t put down once I started – if you’ve not read it, you really should!

My next book is The Paradise Room by Belinda Jones. It’s a book I’ve had for a while, but definitely a trashy book compared to my last few books. It probably won’t take me too long to read, especially if it’s anything like the other Belinda Jones books I’ve read. I really like her style of writing and always find it hard to put her books down once I’ve started. Perfect reading for after I’ve been dragged around the shops by my sister on my day off work tomorrow 🙂

Now Reading: John Steinbeck – Of Mice and Men

john-steinbeck-of-mice-and-menSo the last book I read  (A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian) was only a little bit about tractors, but I really enjoyed it! A few people had told me that it was a really funny book, but I also found parts of it to be really sad. I loved the character of the Dad, both stubborn but also charming and helpless. The end of the book was totally not what I expected to happen, but I prefer how it ended to how I would have written it. I guess that’s why I’m not an author! I learnt quite a lot about Ukrainian history while reading the book, although these parts were some of the saddest parts, because you know that they are true. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone thinking of reading it, don’t be put off by the title.

My next book is Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck. For GCSE English at school, there were two sets of students. One who studied a set text of a series of short stories, and one who read Of Mice and Men. Unfortunately, I was in the set who had to read the short stories over and over again, so I never got to read this book.  It’s only about 100 pages long, so shouldn’t take too long to read, but the thing I hate about short books is I usually get too involved and then they leave me wanting more. I suppose this should be considered a good thing though…

Now Reading: Marina Lewycka – A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian

photo-61The last book I read (Eve Green by Susan Fletcher) was really good. It took me a while to get into it, but once it had grabbed my attention I found myself desperate to find out what happened next. When I’m reading I often guess (or try to guess) what will happen next, and I did this often during this book, but I was wrong every time. Most of the books I read are quite predictable, so I really enjoy books that surprise me, and this one definitely did just that!

The book was the winner of the Whitbread First Novel Award, and I can see why. Fletcher perfectly captured the thoughts and feelings of Eve Green, the woman recalling her past, and of Evie Green, the eight year old version of Eve who travels through tragedy, grief, mystery and unlikely friendships towards love, happiness and some sort of understanding.

The next book I am reading has been on my shelf for a while, and the title keeps catching my eye. As with most of my books, it’s part of a set from The Book People, so I don’t really  have any idea what it is about, although I’m guessing (and hoping) that it’s not actually about tractors. We’ll see…

Now Reading: Susan Fletcher – Eve Green

The last book that I read (Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín) was one of the best books I have read in a long time.

(Spoiler alert – don’t read the next paragraph if you plan on reading this book)

It was set in the 1950s, and focused on a young Irish girl named Eilis, who is persuaded to move to Brooklyn by her older sister Rose. She struggles with settling in, but eventually meets a guy (Tony) she really likes. She is then shocked with the news that her older sister has died, and her mother wants her to return to Ireland. She makes plans to return home for a month, but marries Tony before she leaves. He loves her, but  isn’t convinced she would be able to leave her mother in Ireland if she had no permanent tie to Brooklyn. When she gets back to Ireland, her mother and friends have started making plans for her to stay, getting her a job and setting her up with a guy. She doesn’t tell them about Tony, and is almost tempted to stay and just write a letter to Tony asking for a divorce. In the end though, she makes the right decision and returns to Brooklyn and to her new life with Tony.

The book drew me right in, and I felt myself wishing Eilis to make the right decisions. I love books that make me feel involved, and this one definitely did. When I turned the last page, I really wished there were a couple more chapters, but I think Tóibín left it in the right place. This quote from the description of the book on Amazon hits the nail right on the head:

Brooklyn is a tender story of great love and loss, and of the heartbreaking choice between personal freedom and duty. In the character of Eilis Lacey Colm Tóibín has created a remarkable heroine and in Brooklyn a novel of devastating emotional power.

photo-4It took me a while to decide what book to read next (I’ve too many on my shelf to choose from), but I finally settled on Eve Green by Susan Fletcher. I’ve no idea really what it will be like, but the quote from The Observer on the back says ‘An exceptional debut of grace and subtlety’, and the book was the winner of the Whitbread First Novel Award. Quite a lot to live up to, but we’ll see how it goes. I did originally want to read Anna Karenina next, but it’s 848 pages long, and I wasn’t quite in the mood for something so in depth. I think I may read it over Christmas when I’ve got more time for reading.

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