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giraffe23 (London)

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Tulip Fever
Tulip Fever
Price: £1.99

2.0 out of 5 stars Very disappointing - but buy the print version, not kindle if you want to read it., 16 May 2015
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This review is from: Tulip Fever (Kindle Edition)
I haven't read any other of Deborah Moggach's novels, and I appreciate that she has had a very long and successful career, so perhaps this is a novel is a blip.

It starts quite well, with an intriguing marriage between an old man and a young girl, who is grateful to have been rescued from a life of poverty. But what could have been a really interesting exploration of this relationship turned into something completely one dimensional. The characters are so superficially drawn, that I really could not have cared less if they'd all drowned in a canal. The plot is fairly preposterous - but you can say that about a lot of novels - it was the lack of emotional depth that really let it down. This was emphasised by the strange device of starting each chapter from a different point of view. If felt like the book just flitted from one person to the next - towards the end I even felt like I was reading scene outlines for a novel, rather than a novel itself.

I dutifully read to the end - which I had already guessed. I really can't recommend this, unless you are particularly interested in 17th century Amsterdam - however, I would also say that the print version is probably better than the kindle - as I'm sure the paintings add to the story and they don't really come across on the kindle.


Oryx And Crake
Oryx And Crake
Price: £5.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous, 29 May 2014
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This review is from: Oryx And Crake (Kindle Edition)
I know I have to write something as a review, but I just really enjoyed this trilogy. I love Margaret Attwood and I love science fiction/fantasy. I spent a wonderful month reading the trilogy one after another and was a little bit sad when I got to the end.


The Year Of The Flood
The Year Of The Flood
Price: £4.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous, 29 May 2014
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I know I have to write something as a review, but I just really enjoyed this trilogy. I love Margaret Attwood and I love science fiction/fantasy. I spent a wonderful month reading the trilogy one after another and was a little bit sad when I got to the end.


MaddAddam
MaddAddam

4.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous, 29 May 2014
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This review is from: MaddAddam (Kindle Edition)
I know I have to write something as a review, but I just really enjoyed this trilogy. I love Margaret Attwood and I love science fiction/fantasy. I spent a wonderful month reading the trilogy one after another and was a little bit sad when I got to the end.


The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair
The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair
Price: £3.99

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Huge disappointment, 29 May 2014
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There was so much hype about this book; and I do love a good crime/thriller - I was really looking forward to some New England escapism. The best I can say is that the author does keep the plot twisting and I did ultimately want to find out what the author came up with as a 'solution' - although I skipped a lot superfluous pages to get there. If characterisation and dialogue are not so important to you, then you may well enjoy this book.

Personally, I found every single relationship and character was utterly cliched and unbelievable. There was the lonely writer, the nagging Jewish mother, the young beautiful victim, the hard-nosed cop who is a good guy, the town beauty queen etc. etc. The dialogue was cringe-worthy. I had no interest in any one of the characters - especially the supposedly magnetic Nola. The scene where she dances in the rain on the beach made me laugh out loud.

I don't really like giving bad reviews - and I can see that some people really enjoyed this book. I would recommend that you read the first chapter in a book shop before buying.


On The Beach (Vintage Classics)
On The Beach (Vintage Classics)
Price: £6.17

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Necessary, 31 Oct. 2013
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We live in an age of choice. There are so many books available to read. Booker Prize winners - hot new authors (my kindle is a graveyard of picked at bones of disappointing break-through novels). I am not sure what made me read this slightly dated book - I have a vague recollection of reading or seeing a film about it years ago as a teenager. There is no doubt that it is depressing. And yet - I wanted to read it. I wanted to know about these characters and how their lives end. This book moved me immensely. We will all die - that is a certainty. However, we do not know when. On The Beach - they know when - give or take a week. And yet, as we do, they continue to live their lives, as if they will live forever. Sound familiar?

What I do know is that Neville Shute can create characters we actually care about. There would be no other earthly reason for finishing this book - other than to live through the end of their lives with characters we have come to love. I wish authors would take note. Plot - twists - ingenuity - poetic language - all fantastic. But most of all - make us care about your characters. We will go to the end of the holocaust for that.


The Son
The Son
Price: £1.49

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping, brutal, intelligent, 15 Aug. 2013
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This review is from: The Son (Kindle Edition)
If you like family sagas - and I'm a sucker for them - but need intelligent and thought provoking literature - read this book!

This is the story of the McCullough family, spanning the lives of the enigmatic 'Colonel' Eli, born in 1836, his sensitive and questioning son, Peter and his great-granddaughter the dynamic and astute Jeanne. But you are never sure if you are reading about the family or the bloody history of the land they have claimed - as with all the best family sagas, small lives are reflected in the larger world.

Whilst challenging the myth of the cowboy and the 'good' white man isn't exactly new, this book works because it is not afraid to shy away from contradictions. There are no 'good' people here; brutality and kindness is distributed amongst all. There is also no lecturing - it's simply a good story. I read this book to the end because I really wanted to know what happened to each of the narrators.

A word of warning - if you are sensitive to violence, you cannot read this book. There is one chapter in particular which stayed with me for longer that I would have wished. I am assuming it was researched and that such cases of torture probably occurred, and I have no issue with its inclusion as I believe it added to the story, as it showed the darkest side of human nature, which this book does not seek to ignore. However, I still struggled with it and would prefer that the images were not in my head (although it's a testament to Philipp Meyer's writing that the images were so vivid).

My one criticism of the book was that the use of a WPA recording to reveal Eli's story seemed a little too contrived. It particularly jarred for me when he reveals intimate sexual details about his relationship with his wife. I find it hard to believe that a man of that generation would reveal those things to a stranger - however, this is a minor flaw. The Colonel is a fantastic and enigmatic character, who tragically overshadows everyone in his radius.


The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared
The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared
by Jonas Jonasson
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars Let's hear it for the old people, 19 Oct. 2012
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I read this book on holiday. I would recommend it as a holiday book. It's a farce, and a very entertaining one.

If it weren't for the 100-year-old man, it would have been a mediocre farce, but the old guy saved it.


The Chimp Paradox: The Mind Management Programme to Help You Achieve Success, Confidence and Happiness
The Chimp Paradox: The Mind Management Programme to Help You Achieve Success, Confidence and Happiness
by Prof Steve Peters
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.09

108 of 119 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Infinite monkeys, 11 Sept. 2012
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Honestly, I had to decide between 5 stars and 2.5 for this book.

In the end, I gave it 5 stars, because the basic premise of the book, the idea that we have a 'chimp' who cannot change or be changed, but who we need to manage, has been so liberating to me.

I have a tendency to be anxious and am always very hard on myself. I work in a teaching environment, so I expect that I should be able to learn from past mistakes and shouldn't (for example) get anxious over trivialities. Yet, despite learning CBT techniques, I still find myself getting anxious about whether I have done well enough at work or what other people think of me (although I hide it well and come across as very confident). This has given me even more reason to beat myself up and so the cycle continued.

Now when I get anxious, I simply see it as my chimp playing up. It is something I cannot stop, but I can try and foresee and manage. My life hasn't turned around, but it has radically improved just by this one type of mental imagery.

I also appreciated the emphasis on values and how these define us as humans, which allowed me to get perspective on some issues.

This book should not be read as a psychology text book or as a guide to the workings of the brain. It is a suggested mindset to help deal with life, for those who find they struggle (and that's most of us sometimes). As I see it, the chimp represents evolutionary drives, the 'human' is the essences of me/you or conscious selves.

OK - now for the bad bit. The structure of the book does not make sense. There is a computer and an autopilot, there are goblins and gremlins, there are various planets and moons and in amongst them all friends, success, stress and communication. It's all just too confusing and muddled. Maybe it will make more sense on second reading, or perhaps these are areas to be dipped into when needed. But ideally, I think the author should re-think/re-write the structure.

I would still recommend this book without hesitation though.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 21, 2015 1:14 AM BST


Swimming Home
Swimming Home
by Deborah Levy
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.00

1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful but vacant, 9 Sept. 2012
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This review is from: Swimming Home (Paperback)
Deborah Levy is undoubtedly a talented writer. Her imagery and scene setting are pitch perfect and the booked lulled me gently into a hot summer in the South of France.

However, the plot, well it's not really a plot, it's an inevitability. That's OK, it doesn't set out to be a crime thriller. The problem for me lies with the characters. Joe Jozef was slightly enigmatic, but not especially. The wife and guests are just shadows. I have no idea about them or their relationship with each other or their motivations. The daughter is a cut-out adolescent. Kitty was just irritating.

I cannot imagine spending an evening with any of these people without being bored witless, let alone a holiday.

I think this book is probably for people who are more interested in the language and poetry of writing, than reading a 'story'.


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