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Lucy Jane Moore "lucyjanemoore2"
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Brooklyn
Brooklyn
by Colm Tóibín
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not exactly gripping!, 15 April 2010
This review is from: Brooklyn (Paperback)
Let me start of by saying that 'Brooklyn' is an eminently pleasant book; it's an easy read with a non-complex plot and manageable (at just 252 pages). However, given the high praise heaped on this novel, I expected so much more and this book fell way short. It started promisingly enough - 1950s Ireland, a young girl, Ellis, given the opportunity to move to the US to start a new life, her mixed emotions - the anticipation and anxiety - and her experience as she tries to carve a life for herself in this foreign land. Friends feature, an opinionated landlady, work colleagues and, of course, eventually a sweetheart - Ellis seems to be settling and establishing herself in New York when a trip back to Ireland becomes inevitable...

I thought initially this might be a 'slow burner' and was waiting for a metaphorical plot explosion to get this book going. By page 200, I sadly realized this was just not going to happen. It is pedestrian at best. Colm Toibin can write but his style in this book left me unable to really get in to the story or identify or root for the characters. It was just so detached, so curiously unemotional and one dimensional. None of the characters were truly fleshed out in any significant way. Even Ellis. By the end of the book I could not imagine what she looked like, usually a good book creates an image in my mind. No such evocation here. It was a strange experience reading this book.

So, as I said at the beginning this is not an unpleasant to read, but I remain hugely disappointed given that the cover pronounced it "magnificent", "unforgettable" and the 2009 Costa Novel Award. I am baffled. Am I missing something? Massively overrated.


Forever Amber
Forever Amber
by Kathleen Winsor
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.49

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An exceptionally entertaining read. Historical fiction at its rollicking best., 28 Nov 2008
This review is from: Forever Amber (Paperback)
At nearly 1000 pages, you would think this book would take a while to finish. Not so with me. I read it in a couple of days, couldn't put it down on occasions, sneaked a quick 5 minute read here and there and found myself utterly absorbed in the life and fate of the book's protagonist, Amber.

The historical background to the book is Charles II's reign in the mid 17th century following the Restoration and covers such events as the Great Plague and the cataclysmic Great Fire of London. Amber starts life as a simple country girl with a steely determination to rise above her current situation and the beauty to help her achieve it.

The book chronicles her fortunes, both good and bad, as she rises from country girl, to actress, Kings's mistress and wealthy Duchess via many affairs, marriages, much scheming, plotting and manoevering. The common thread running throughout the book is her continued and passionate first love for Bruce, Lord Carlton. Her two obsessions - Bruce and her desire for independent wealth and status - are at the root of Amber's actions throughout the story, they drive her, obsess her and ultimately come close to destroying her.

The bed-hopping, faithlessness and immoral nature of the King's court and behaviour of the aristocracy gives the book a compelling and bawdy edge that only heightens the entertainment level. What is truly remarkable about this book is that given the length, the entertainment and the story itself never comes close to flagging. Moreover, the ending is truly unexpected and memorable raising more answers than questions about the eventual fate of Amber.

I highly recommend this book. Historical entertainment at its absolute finest. Easy to read and utterly compelling - take it to the beach or on a plane and your day or journey will simply fly by!


Prenatal Fitness Fix [DVD]
Prenatal Fitness Fix [DVD]
Dvd ~ Erin O'Brien
Price: £8.05

12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent DVD for all round toning, 27 Nov 2008
This review is from: Prenatal Fitness Fix [DVD] (DVD)
I have just completed this work out for the first time and really enjoyed the simple yet effective excercises. You don't need special equipment, just a small amount of space and a chair or coffee table to lean on. The focus is on working a wide variety of muscles all over the body. There is good emphasis on squats and lunges - extremely important exercises for pregnant women - but other areas of the body are not neglected and the obliques, triceps and glutes are all included. Erin incorporates some simple pilates exercises for the floor work and some yoga moves (downward dog) for the core. I am of a reasonable fitness level and have attended gyms off and on for years and I found the exercises were strenuous enough for me. For those who have not exercised for a while - don't be put off. You can easily adapt the exercises to suit your level - when the counting speeds up, keep to a steadier pace and gradually speed up over time.

I have to agree with other reviewers that Erin is a pleasant host - not to mention a fantastic looking pregnant woman. I was not looking for a work out to do with my husband so I can't comment on the effectiveness of the partner workout, but it looks fun if your partner/husband is so inclined.

I highly recommend this video. If done regularly, it will definitely improve the overall tone of your pregnant body and strengthen your muscles. Find some space and a 40 minute free slot and get exercising!


Welcome to Dead House (Goosebumps (Quality))
Welcome to Dead House (Goosebumps (Quality))
by R. L. Stine
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Spooky & scary - my class LOVED this book!, 15 Nov 2007
I started reading this book a week ago and the 27 Year 5 children in my class are utterly transfixed by this story. To say they love it would be a complete understatement. I have really enjoyed reading it - the story is simple, you can identify with the characters - the sensible older sister, the stubborn, sulky, younger brother - and there are many subtle twists and turns that ensure interest levels never flag and the momentum of the story is maintained. There are some gory sections, but overall a fantastic, spooky story which children will love.


The Memory Keeper's Daughter
The Memory Keeper's Daughter
by Kim Edwards
Edition: Paperback

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars An unsatisfying read, 15 Dec 2006
I was intrigued by the unusual and unique premise of this book; a doctor delivering his own twins making a split second decision to give the second child away because of physical signs of Downs Syndrome. The Nurse who agrees to take the child to an institution fails to make good her promise and moves away to raise the child herself. This secret bubbles away under the surface, driving a wedge between the doctor and his family which eventually implodes.

I was instantly drawn into the story and the family, fractured though it was; I sypathised with the wife whose joy at motherhood was tinged with sadness and regret as she struggled to overcome the supposed death of one of her twins and the father whose own childhood experience of a sick sister who died prematurely ultimately propelled him to make 'that' decision in a bid to prevent the grief and distress his own parents had endured.

I found the first 200 pages beautifully written and compelling. However, after that the book sagged terminally; there was no hint at a resolution just a continued account of the fractured lives and the narrative and plot meandered aimlessly.

Ultimately, I found the book for the most part unsatisfying. It was a missed opportunity. We can all identify with the ideas of past secrets souring present and future happiness and similarly the decision made by the doctor provides real food for thought; it cannot be condemmed automatically given the time period and his own childhood experience. But, after such a strong start the book simply did not live up to it's billing.


Strangers
Strangers
by Taichi Yamada
Edition: Paperback

2 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A complete let down...very disappointing, 13 Dec 2006
This review is from: Strangers (Paperback)
When I picked up this book I was expecting a ghost story with an edgy feel; something haunting yet fascinating and ultimately different from other stories I have read in this genre. I was completely and utterly disappointed. I felt the writing was matter-of-fact and uninspiring, (somthing lost in translation maybe?) the story pedestrian and unengaging, and the characters one-dimensional and uninteresting. The only crumb of comfort is that the book is very thin so I managed to polish it off in the space of two afternoons. Maybe I was missing something; other reviewers have rated this book very highly, but I found nothing to like about it.

The central character, Harada, is a down-on-his-luck 40-something recently divorced and living an unfulfiling existence as a TV scriptwriter. With his ex-wife embarking on a new relationship and his own relationship with his son becoming distant, he starts dwelling on his own childhood experience characterised by the loss of both his parents when he was 12. One night he visits a district of Tokyo that he grew up in which inevitably evokes strong memories of his parents and it is during the course of this evening that he catches sight of a man who closely resembles his father and who is married to a woman who looks exactly like his mother did when she died...Thus begins the real nub of the story as Harada is repeatedly drawn back to the area and to the house of his 'parents'. The ensuing story revolves around the profound effect this experience this has on Harada, both physically and mentally.

Sound good? I think I have made my disappointment clear; I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone. The story has potential, but it is woefully unfulfilled.


The Great Fire
The Great Fire
by Shirley Hazzard
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.55

10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Simply unengaging, 19 Aug 2005
This review is from: The Great Fire (Paperback)
As I began this novel my instincts were that I struggle to "gel" with the narrative and engage with the story. But i persisted... My instinct was right. I failed to engage with the story at any level and I simply didn't care about what happened to the characters. I didn't dislike them, I didn't dislike the story, I just found it exceptionally uninspiring and ever so slightly dull. I haven't been put off reading other Hazzard novels. However, I found this particular novel a very unsatisfying read


The Line of Beauty
The Line of Beauty
by Alan Hollinghurst
Edition: Hardcover

3 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sharp, incisive writing - a worthy Booker Prize winner, 30 Dec 2004
This review is from: The Line of Beauty (Hardcover)
I really enjoyed reading this book. The characters are believable and brought to life through Hollinghurst's sharp and acerbic writing. At the heart of the novel is Nick Guest a middle class boy who moves a few notches up on the social stratum as a result of attending Oxford University when he becomes a lodger and a key player in the upper class world of the Feddens and their associates. Nick throws himself headlong into a superfical decadent lifestyle with the tumultuous eighties providing an appropriate backdrop. The book takes the reader on a journey of four years from 1983 -1987, during which elections are won, lifes and careers are ruined, promises broken and morality ignored - with significant consequences for all involved. Overall a throughly good read. Recommended!


The Sunlit Stage
The Sunlit Stage
by Simonetta Wenkert
Edition: Hardcover

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good read - but the plot twists let the book down., 5 Aug 2004
This review is from: The Sunlit Stage (Hardcover)
I agree with the other reviewers; this book powerfully evokes a little known or discussed era in recent Italian history - where political turmoil and terrorism were rife, distabilising society. The book is extrememly well written; Ms Wenkert is an accomplished and talented writer. She brought all the characters to life, as diverse as they were, and her writing captured detail and emotion brilliantly. I struggled to put the book down for the first 175 pages; I was enthralled by the tragedy of the doomed relationship between Julia and Ennio juxataposed with the life of Lotte, their daughter, growing up in London with her maternal grandmother. Then, slowly I found the book began to unravel. The story was conveyed through various accounts, from interviews with Ennio to secret reports and eye witness testimonies and, whilst this worked surprisingly well, my patience with Lotte and the implausible plot surrounding her tryst with the journalist began to wane. Unfortunately as I finished this book the weakness of the plot, pertaining to shown how history can sometimes repeat its self, was my overriding memory. This seemed to eclipse all the books previous good work. A real shame.


The Kite Runner
The Kite Runner
by Khaled Hosseini
Edition: Paperback

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extraordinarily powerful and touching, 28 July 2004
This review is from: The Kite Runner (Paperback)
I took this book to the beach with me and didn't leave until I had finished it - it really was that good! Powerfully evoking the sights and smells of Afghanistan in the 1970's, Hosseini brings to life the friendship between two boys which seemingly transcends the rigid rules regarding status and class in this strict Muslim society. When tragedy strikes, this innocent friendship is shattered and the consequences are felt for decades to come and survive immigration, marrigage and death. I cannot reccommend this book highly enough. Beautifully written with pathos and sensitivity, I defy anyone not to read the final line with a lump in their throat.


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