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FaffingAbout (UK)

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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
Price: £4.19

1.0 out of 5 stars I'm so glad that's over!, 23 Mar. 2015
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It has happened so much lately, that I read a book with loads of 4/5-star reviews and find that I absolutely hate it, maybe I should avoid 'popular' books with lots of good reviews.

I was reading this for a book club, otherwise I wouldn't have finished it. I understand it's meant to be fantastical, unrealistic, a romp that irreverently re-writes history - and indeed some parts are faintly amusing. An odd quote from Allan hit the spot here and there, with his straightforward views on life / religion / politics.

What I can't forgive about the book was its sheer boredom, tedium, repetition and utter dullness. I disliked the child-like style of writing which wore very thin after a few chapters. The story was not engaging, I was constantly wishing they'd just get on with it. I didn't want to read all those dull child-like conversations that I imagine were meant to be hilarious.

Near the end when, having already laboured through Allan & Co's adventures the first time, we were meant to read through his new version of events for the police inspector, well really that took the biscuit. I skipped the whole lot and was no worse off for it. I assume that part was meant to be funny as well.

I know that lots of people loved the book - we all have different tastes in everything. As per my opening remarks, it just goes to show how difficult it is to form any judgement on a book based on reviews. It is far better to read books based on personal recommendations from people who seem to have similar reading tastes.

The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry
The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry
Price: £3.66

4.0 out of 5 stars A very pleasant read, 12 Aug. 2014
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I wasn't sure what to expect from the book but I immediately liked the author's writing style. She describes things very simply and very well. Bit disappointed she skipped over my part of the country even without any description even though Harold walked right through it but such is life.

There have been lots of reviews on here and like all very popular over-hyped books, this one has divided opinion. Personally, although the storyline was very silly and I deduced almost immediately the whereabouts of the son, I really enjoyed the book.

The Resurrectionist
The Resurrectionist
Price: £7.59

1.0 out of 5 stars Grim, tedious, depressing, 11 Aug. 2014
I nearly gave up on this book but I persevered to the bitter end in the expectation that something would happen, there would be some twist or some ending that would make the whole dreary slog worthwhile. But I was disappointed.

Others have given a precis of the plot so I'm not going to repeat it all. Suffice to say that there wasn't really much of a plot at all, nothing much happened. The entire book was one of unrelenting grimness, poverty and depravity. I actually started feeling depressed when I went to pick it up, I started to sigh audibly. The book treated us to numerous unpleasant descriptions of dead bodies and their subsequent dissection without there really being any point to it all. The main character seemed to be incapable of making any positive decisions and most of what he did/didn't do defied any logic.

Gabriel in the pauper's grave at least served some kind of justice but then the book takes a random leap to Australia. If there had been some kind of redemption or even a glimmer of happiness, towards the end, that might have redeemed the book. But instead of the murder of humans, in Australia we have moved onto the wholesale killing of birds.

I thought the author's descriptions of London very vivid, he paints a picture very well. It's not that his writing is all that bad, it's that there is no story and nothing to relieve the tedium of the book. The characters were all very similar and almost all very nasty.

What really annoyed me about the writing style was the persistent habit of starting a chapter by talking about he/she/him/her and it being a paragraph or two before you know who on earth is being talked about. How I hate that - it's not mysterious, it doesn't build suspense, it's just very annoying.

The very short chapters didn't help, there was no flow to the book. The only good thing about the short chapters was that often there were only 2 or 3 lines on a page, bringing me closer to the end of this depressing boring book.

Marion Fay
Marion Fay
Price: £0.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not one of Trollope's best but Kindle version is good, 10 Feb. 2014
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This review is from: Marion Fay (Kindle Edition)
I've read most of Trollope's offerings and he is one of my favourites among the authors of classics but this book is not one of his best - I found myself looking forward to it being over.

The book explores a theme common in Trollope's books - the mixing of different social classes. A brother and sister who are among the landed gentry both end up falling in love with people far 'below' them. There are the usual hunting scenes as well, which I don't overly enjoy but he makes them interesting enough.

The first part of the book is very enjoyable. Trollope paints his varied characters strongly and with humour. It's only when we finally meet the eponymous heroine that things start to drag - like another reviewer, I found Marion Fay very irritating after a while and just wanted her to stop dithering. Trollope, despite his liberal leanings, comes up with a neat solution to both unsuitable marriages in the end.

As far as the Kindle version goes - it's good, I had no problems with it. The only slight niggle was that on going from one part of the book to another, the justification of the text changed to ragged on both left and right. But a bit of tweaking sorted that out.

Lost and Found: One Woman's Story of Losing Her Money and Finding Her Life
Lost and Found: One Woman's Story of Losing Her Money and Finding Her Life
by Geneen Roth
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.74

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not sure what the point was, 26 Mar. 2013
I really struggled with this book. I found it repetitive and self-indulgent. The author keeps harping back to her relationship with food and while that may have some relevance, it's not supposed to be the point of the book. Not everyone reading the book will have issues around food - I thought the book was meant to be about money.

All the time while reading, I was waiting for the author to get to the point - tell me how you found your life after losing all your money, pass on the lessons you learned, give me some advice to help me manage my own financial life. The book never did reach the point, or if it did, I entirely missed it.

The book is full of examples about the (poor) attitude of her students to money but never seems to address the issues raised. I sent it back for a refund, at least that's 8+ pounds more money in my life!

Seriously, though Ms Roth writes well and possibly there are pearls of wisdom, there was not enough there to fill a book. A short article maybe.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
by Mary Ann Shaffer
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.59

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not my cup of tea, 7 Jan. 2013
The format and content of the book have been covered plenty of times by now and as I don't really do 'literary' reviews, I'll just say what I thought of the book. I got it as part of a set of 10 from another online store, which worked out at a quid apiece. I found the title a bit twee - I remember reading a TV review by AA Gill where he said the very name 'Lark Rise to Candleford' made him want to spew - I felt the same about the title of this book. Other points:

1) I was dismayed to find that the entire book was in the form of letters, which is not a format I enjoy. However, this was quite well done overall. The main drawback was that the authors failed to create different voices for all the characters - they all sounded much the same except for the main heroine of the piece. They also all sounded like half-wits who talked like peasants in a Monty Python film.

2) One of the main drawbacks of the book for me was that I hated the main character, I found her tedious and conceited and far too 'full of herself'. I was annoyed by her from the moment I read the letter which had the single line 'I deny everything'. I can't imagine anyone wanting to confide anything in her, let alone people who have just been through highly traumatic war years. In fact

3) I don't believe that the people of Guernsey would have willingly shared most of the information in the book with anyone. I don't understand why they all suddenly decided to adore this completely unknown English girl and treat her like an honoured guest.

4) The reason I recalled Lark Rise to Candleford above is that the whole thing reminded me a bit of that - all very jolly and rosy and cutesy and country-bumpkin friendly. Sure, nasty things happen but it's all rather lovely really isn't it?

5) The characters we are all meant to really love - Juliet, Kit and even Elizabeth are just very hard to like. I particularly disliked the fawning over the child Kit which was baffling. At one point Sidney writes 'The temptation to cuddle her is nearly overwhelming, but it would be a slight on her dignity'. Why? The child is 4 years old, for goodness sake, she's not the Queen of Sheba.

6) Having foisted letters on us for most the book, the authors resorted to a 'detective notes' device in order to contrive an ending to the love story - that whole part was so ludicrous it leaves me almost speechless. So was the Oscar Wilde letter-stealing business.

Having pointed out what I didn't like, I must add that I read the book through to the end, which means it must get more than 1 star. I hated some things about it but quite enjoyed other parts and overall it was an easy read. I was never aware before of the terrible sufferings of the channel islands during WW2 and that is something I would like to learn about from a more informed source.

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand
Major Pettigrew's Last Stand
by Helen Simonson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Rather silly but I enjoyed most of it, 4 Jan. 2013
I have mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand, I did rather enjoy the musings of the major and many of his observations made me smile. While some Americanisms crept into the book, overall I found the writing rather good.

However, the major himself strikes you as someone much older than 68, he's an old fossil who must surely have fought at the battle of Waterloo. In fact the whole thing seems set in the wrong era because the racism and social intolerance of things like a single mother / illegitimate child are not a real reflection of modern Britain. The list of people potentially offended by the attitudes and opinions in this book must be quite long.

The book ended in a flurry of tidying up the storylines and tying up loose ends, and stretched belief too far, I'm afraid. But it's not a bad read and I only paid a quid for it, so it gets 3 stars.

The Elegance of the Hedgehog
The Elegance of the Hedgehog
by Muriel Barbery
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.19

5.0 out of 5 stars A book that makes you think, 4 Nov. 2012
This book divided opinion in my own family and when I read it, I knew it would polarise opinion here on amazon as well. Others have summarised the plot very well so I won't do so again but I must say I really enjoyed this book. I loved it from the first page.

It's true that the writing can come across initially as self-important and pretentious. The thoughts of the cynical Paloma in particular seem impossibly precocious but then we are told she is highly intelligent. Actually, it was her writings that I enjoyed most, she had a way of looking at life that makes you stop and think. One example is where she describes her sister as 'an expert at fake self-criticism'. What a great line, don't you know people like that?

The musings of Renee on art and beauty are beautiful and thought-provoking. I didn't fully understand everything that she says and so had to re-read bits a few times. But I like a challenge. (Incidentally, reading Tolstoy is not a sign of high intelligence as such - Tolstoy's books are long but not that difficult, this is especially the case with War and Peace. His works are no more difficult that any novel of the same era, I'm no intellectual heavy-weight and I found them very readable.)

It seems to me that the book has been translated very well. Paloma uses the word 'nary' at one point which seems totally wrong but apart from that, the language used was beautiful. I went back and re-read passages a few times simply because I enjoyed them so much and I fully intend to re-read the whole book several times more so I can fully appreciate it.

I suppose I was a little disappointed at the ending as I love a happy ending, but it was beautifully done.

The Faithless
The Faithless
by Martina Cole
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.85

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Utter drivel, 4 Nov. 2012
This review is from: The Faithless (Paperback)
This was my first Martina Cole book, which I picked up in our village phone-box library. Before long, I had to check the cover to see that this was THE Martina Cole, best-selling author. I was so taken aback by the banality of the writing, the repetition, the extreme characters, the fact that everyone's every thought was spelled out over and over again, the lack of story, the loose plotting, the sheer predictability of it all.

After slogging through about 130 pages of gratuitous expletives and ridiculous dialogue, I decided to start 'skipping' the rest of the book, where I just pick up the story without having to read it. But even that was not worth it, so I gave up.

It was a great relief to check the reviews on here and find that others think the same - I simply could not understand how this book could be a best-seller. I appreciate that we all have different tastes but really, I can't imagine how anyone could enjoy this book - it's very badly written, depressing and has nothing to make you want to turn the page.

Other reviews suggest that Ms Cole's earlier works are much better so if I come across one (for nothing) I might give it a go. I almost don't want to return this book to our little library and thus inflict it on another unsuspecting reader.

The Little House
The Little House
by Philippa Gregory
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Really enjoyed this book, 16 Oct. 2012
This review is from: The Little House (Paperback)
I've read many of Phillipa Gregory's historical novels and I didn't realise she wrote more contemporary fiction. I must say I enjoyed this book immensely. OK, so the characters were almost caricatures. Ruth was far too much of a wimp, Patrick far too much of a mummy's boy, and Elizabeth a bit too villainous. I don't really see what she had to gain by her behaviour.

I don't always enjoy Gregory's writing - it veers too closely to Danielle Steele territory at times - but I found this book well written.
I liked the way the author left so much unsaid, so much for us to wonder about. I found my mind wandering off thinking about this and that.

I found Elizabeth's smiling malice fascinating and it is also instructive how easily a loving mother can be made to look neglectful. I agree with other reviewers who wanted to slap Ruth, illness aside she was pretty inept. I mean the business of her son wailing in the supermarket trolley, why didn't she just pick him up?

The double twist at the end was unexpected and not entirely convincing but I loved it.

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