Shop now Shop now Shop now Up to 70% off Fashion Shop All Amazon Fashion Cloud Drive Photos Learn More Amazon Pantry Food & Drink Beauty Shop now Shop Fire Shop Kindle Shop now Shop now Shop now
Profile for Georgiana89 > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by Georgiana89
Top Reviewer Ranking: 1,333
Helpful Votes: 686

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
Georgiana89 (London)

Show:  
Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-15
pixel
Tom's Midnight Garden
Tom's Midnight Garden
by Philippa Pearce
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Sixty years old and aimed at the 8 to 12 market, but still one of the best head-spinning time-travel books out there, 17 Jan. 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Tom's Midnight Garden (Paperback)
I first read this classic children's novel years ago, when I was perhaps eight. Despite having been written about forty years earlier, it caught my imagination in a way few books could manage, and I read it numerous times. Over Christmas, I had a random desire to read it again, for the first time in about twenty years. This is very definitely a children's book rather than one of those that work just as well for adults, but even now, I still found it a delightful quick read.
The basic premise is that Tom is sent to stay with his aunt and uncle in the little flat while his brother is ill. The sense of being trapped and smothered is palpable, and the aunt who desperatly wants kids and the stuffy uncle who doesn't know what to do with them are both beautifully fleshed out. Before it was divided into flats, the building he's staying in was a huge house. The only remaining artifact from that time is an old-fashioned grandfather clock in the hallway, that always chimes the wrong time. One night, Tom hears it strike thirteen, and when he goes downstairs, seemingly finds himself in the house as it used to be - and most importantly, in its huge, magical garden, where he makes friends with a girl who used to live there.
This was probably the first time-travel novel I read and it's now a genre I love. For me, the best thing about time travel narratives are when they get really mind-bending, and this delivered that to a surprising degree for a book written so long ago and aimed at such a young audience. Because time doesn't run in a linear fashion in the garden. Though his friend is usually the same sort of age as him (ie. about 8 to 10), occasionally she's a toddler, and sometimes, she's a teenager or young woman. And though he goes every night, months can have passed in the garden, usually forwards, but sometimes backwards. I'd be amazed if the author of the Time Traveller's Wife hadn't read and loved this as a child, as it's broadly the same concept, only with childhood friendship rather than adult love.
It's the cleverness of the concept that really grabbed me, but it's also nice to see a male/female friendship, including a girl who loves to play with bows and arrows and climb trees. The garden is beautifully described and both the Victorian era and the (then contemporary) 1950s are brought to life.
If you've got kids, I'd definitely push this in their direction. Don't be put off by the age or the slightly slow opening - this is brilliant. And if you're an adult looking for a quick, nostalgic read, this is still a great choice.


The Shock of the Fall
The Shock of the Fall
Price: £5.25

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars More clever than enjoyable, 17 Jan. 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Overall, this was a book I admired more than I enjoyed. The author did an amazing job of developing a beliveable narrative from the point of view of a teenager with schizophrenia. The main character was fully fleshed out, rather than just a vehicle for his illness, but at the same time, the story gave a real insight into the disease and how his mind works. I was also impressed by the non-linear narrative - the narrator's thoughts jump around and the story goes where they go, so that it's not always entirely clear what's happening right now, what's a short-term memory and what's an anecdote from long ago.
As a story though, it was extremely depressing and grim. I don't mind that sometimes, but here, there didn't seem much room for change. Furthermore, the narrative went on and on, with little plot or change in circumstances. Towards the end, there's something that the author seems to treat as a revelation, but I'd not just already worked this out, I'd sort of assumed we were already meant to know this, so it was a huge anti-climax.
Three stars for the clever writing and well-developed character, but not one I'd recommend in a hurry, other than to those with a particular interest in mental illness.


Queen Song (A Red Queen Novella)
Queen Song (A Red Queen Novella)
Price: £1.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A great addition to the world of the Red Queen, 17 Jan. 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Despite my slightly mixed review of Red Queen, I couldn't resist picking up this spinoff novella. If you enjoyed the main book, I'd definitely recommend doing the same. It takes place about twenty years before that and is narrated by the King's first wife - Cal's mother. She was a really interesting and likable character - a woman with a taste and talent for engineering was a particularly unusual and welcome character. This lets you see another side to some of the characters - the King in particular, who's much more sympathetic here - and deepens your understanding of the world and the way the Silvers live. Above all though, this serves to really and truly make you hate the second Queen, who astonishingly manages to do even worse things here than she managed in the main book.

This is only short, but it's a dark and revealing way to fill in the gaps in the narrative and the wait between books one and two.


The Buried Giant:
The Buried Giant:
Price: £3.32

3.0 out of 5 stars Potentially a clever blend of the fantasy and the literary - but doesn't quite hit the mark in either direction, 17 Jan. 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Buried Giant: (Kindle Edition)
Some literary purists have attacked this book for its fantasy stylings. For me, that was half the reason I picked it up: I love when authors blur the traditional lines between literary and genre works. I've enjoyed (though I must admit, not loved) many of Ishiguro's earlier works, and I have a soft spot for the Arthurian legends that the fantasy elements hinge on. Before we go any further, I'd like to salute the author for giving this experiment a go.

Sadly, while there were aspects of this book I enjoyed, I didn't feel it quite worked on either of the levels it was going for. There wasn't enough plot and excitement or a sufficiently well-developed world for it to be a really enjoyable, page-turning, attention grabbing fantasy. And there wasn't enough truly beautiful writing, profound thoughts or narrative trickery to make it function as a work of literary art.

The story hinges around an elderly couple with few memories of their earlier life and similar problems with short-term memory. For much of the book, it's ambiguous whether this is due to magical causes or a form of dementia. Either way, it makes for a potentially intriguing, unreliable narrator-style narrative, but quickly grows frustrating and prevents any real world-building or character development.

I enjoyed the questions and revelations of the middle third of the book and thought the ending was touching, and not what I'd suspected. I also thought there were some nice points about how we can dismiss the life experiences of the old. And the blend between a realistic portrayal of the dark ages and fantasy/Arthurian troops was quite neatly done. Overall though, while this was far from a bad book, I wouldn't recommend it in a hurry to fantasy or literary fans - or even to those like me who love to see the boundaries blurred.


Red Queen
Red Queen
Price: £4.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Derivative but still enjoyable, 17 Jan. 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Red Queen (Kindle Edition)
We often tend to praise books for being original and unpredictable, as though those are necessary qualities of a good book.
I should therefore start by saying that I didn't find this book to be either of those things.

Firstly, it was reminiscent of numerous other YA fantasy and dystopian novels. Most notably, it heavily reminded me of the Grisha series - upper class have powers while lower class doesn't, girl from underclass discovers she has powers too, gets to join the elite and becomes embroiled in their scheming and torn between her old and new life. And then the carefully differentiated houses and the evil, beautiful, scheming queen had Game of Thrones written all over it. As well as borrowing heavily from specific books, it also made use of a lot of general tropes that can feel overdone: the chosen one, the plucky rebels and cruel overlords, and inevitably, a bit of a love triangle (or possibly square).

Secondly, I was able to predict 90% of the twists and turns of the plot, including the big, central twist - which again seemed to borrow from some of the sources mentioned above.

But you know what? On the whole, none of that mattered. Sometimes, I want originality and unpredictablilty. At other times, I'm happy to absorb myself in an enjoyable book that reminds me of some of my favourites, and even aspects were a bit familiar, this delivered smart world building, likable (and "love-to-hateable") characters and an engaging plot. For me, this wasn't as good as the books it seemingly takes as its inspiration (and if you haven't read the ones I mention, I'd do that first) but it's still very much worth a read, and I'm looking forward to the sequel.


Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances
Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances
Price: £3.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Solid collection of short stories with a couple of gems, 29 Dec. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I'm not generally a big fan of short stories, tending to prefer tales I can really get my teeth into. On the other hand, I am a big fan of Neil Gaiman, so couldn't resist picking this up.

On the whole, I wasn't disappointed. Though there were inevitably some stories I liked more than others (and some that were probably objectively better or worse) a pretty high standard was kept up throughout and there were a couple of really great ones.

Unlike some short story collections, there's a lot going on here, in terms of both volume and variety. It's 350 pages long with 24 individual stories and poems. As you'd probably expect from Gaiman, to a greater or lesser degree, they could all loosely be described a belonging to a broad fantasy/supernatural/horror genre, but they span a wide range of themes and styles.

Interestingly, several stories in the collection are either what you'd almost call fanfiction if they had been written by a less well-known author (a Sherlock Holmes story, a Doctor Who story), are retellings of classic fairytales (most notably sleeping beauty and snow white), or are homages to fellow writers or musicians (Gene Wolfe, Ray Bradbury, David Bowie). Others take on folklore and history. One, Black Dog, is a spin-off from Gaiman's own American Gods. And then there are plenty of completely original pieces. They are all well-written, and most create an enjoyable sense of creepiness or mystery.

I love American Gods, so I enjoyed the story related to that, especially as it was set in the Peak District, near where I grew up. I also liked the spookiness of "A Lunar Labyrinth." My overall favorite though was "the truth is a cave in the black mountains," set in historical Scotland and merging folklore and magic, an adventure story, and a grittier tale of cattle-rustling, murder and revenge.

Overall, definitely worth a read, whether you're a fan of short stories or not, but while I enjoyed it all, only the stories mentioned above really captured my imagination.


A Single Stone
A Single Stone
Price: £5.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating tale of matriarchy and mountains, 29 Dec. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: A Single Stone (Kindle Edition)
This book is set in a village cut off from the rest of the world several generations ago by a massive rockfall, leaving them utterly enclosed by huge mountains. In winter, they are snowed in and in the freezing cold with windows and chimneys blocked by snow, the only fuel safe to burn is smokeless mica. Unfortunately, the only source of mica is deep inside the dark, twisting, narrow tunnels of the mountain. The village is therefore entirely reliant for its survival on "the line" - a group of girls aged between 7 and about 18 who are brave enough, strong enough, but above all, small and skinny enough, to squeeze through these caverns and bring back the harvest.

As a result, the young girls of the village have a weirdly ambiguous role, quite different to anything I've seen in other fantasy or dystopia. On the one hand, they are treated with the sort of reverence usually reserved for the most heroic of soldiers, and valued far more than male children. On the other, they are bound, half-starved and in some cases, operated on, to restrict their growth and delay the onset of puberty, in order to maximise their ability to travel deeper and deeper into the mountain.

Everything about this premise fascinated me, and the girls' weird position in society wasn't the only thing that made this far more intriguing than most dystopian-style novels.

Firstly, I loved the fact it was a genuinely matriarchal society, ran by a group of older ex-members of the line called the Mothers, something that still seems surprisingly rare in fiction.

Secondly, in most tales of grim societies, the leaders are either cruel or stupid, and overthrowing them and changing the norms is obviously the right thing to do. Here, while the treatment of the girls felt barbaric and their journeys into the mountain were terrifying, everything was necessary for survival, and it was hard to see what possible other alternatives were open to the Mothers. The sense of hopelessness and the need to make sacrifices for the common good were powerful.

Thirdly, I loved the way practical considerations merged with old superstition until it was hard for either members of the village or readers to understand what was necessary and what was ritualistic.

The writing and the characters did justice to the great premise and interesting philosophical ideas, and you could really feel both the excitement and the terror of travelling through the mountain. I realised once I finished the book that this was aimed at slightly younger readers than anything I'd usually pick up (treading a fine line between MG and YA), with the result that it was quite a quick read and didn't contain any romance. Despite this, it was surprisingly dark in places, with several deaths, and I'd recommend it to older teens and adults too.

My one quibble with this otherwise fascinating book was the ending, which felt overly contrived and unrealistic, as well as being quite rushed. I suspect for the intended age group there had to be a reasonably happy ending and this was the only way, but for me, it undermined a lot of what had gone before. Despite this issue, I'd wholeheartedly recommend this for a quick but powerful read.


The Chimes
The Chimes
Price: £5.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Some fascinating concepts about music and memory and an enjoyable middle section, but a bit of a chore overall, 28 Dec. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Chimes (Kindle Edition)
I was fascinated by the premise of this novel: a future London and Oxford governed by a mysterious order, where music has replaced the written word and people are unable to form memories. In some parts, the book almost delivered, with a wonderful sense of disorientation, some clever uses of language and an interesting insight into people thinking in a totally different way. I really enjoyed the middle third, where revelations, plots and romance come thick and fast.

On the other hand, by focusing her story on people with no memories, the author gave herself a bit of a problem. In the first third, when the narrator is suffering like everyone else, though his outlook on the world is intriguing, its hard to a)form any real emotional connection with him and b)gain any real understanding of this unusual world. And then in contrast, once he's (perhaps inevitably) learned to form memories again, there's little to make him stand out from any other hero in any other story. Overall, the first third was confusing and a bit of a chore to get through, and then the final third was rushed, somewhat generic and left more questions than answers. It was extremely unclear what the order were doing and why - was the loss of memories the whole point or an unfortunate side effect? How did they gain power? There was enough in the middle section to make me enjoy this overall, but I really felt I had to fight for that enjoyment.

Apart from the memory loss, the other notable thing about this book is the use it makes of music. At first glance, this is most noticeable in the way that musical terms like lento or piano are used in everyday speech and in the narration. I'm just about familiar enough with the terminology to have found that interesting rather than jarring. But the deeper, weirder part is that people sing directions to each other (seemingly without words) and sign sentiments (loss, sadness, respect etc) in solfege (do re mi fa so la to do). I love music and have sang in choirs, but I've always struggled when people talk about music telling a story or conveying emotion, and here, this concept is taken to extremes. I suspect you have to really love and understand choral/orchestral music and the underlying theory of it to properly enjoy and appreciate this novel.

One final thing that caught me by surprise but was rather appreciated - the central love story is between two teenage boys. It sometimes feels like "LGBT novel" is treated as a genre all or its own or at very least, made a huge fuss out of, so it was sweet to see this cropping up naturally in the midst of a literary-meets-fantasy novel of this type. The romance didn't blow me away, as I'd struggled to really connect with either character, but it was nicely done. That said, I did wonder whether a female character who was built up and then completely dropped from the plot was the original love interest or at least intended to have a more significant role, as her sudden disappearance was oddly jarring.

Overall, this is worth a read, if you can make yourself fight through the opening section and suspend disbelief sufficiently for the rest of it - particularly if you have a decent musical education. That said, I'm bemused by the Booker nomination. The author has to be applauded for trying something a bit different and for blurring the genre with the literary, but this was really not that outstanding.


Slade House
Slade House
Price: £7.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing literary horror by an author who continues to blur the line between genres, 6 Nov. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Slade House (Kindle Edition)
It's fair to say that David Mitchell is one of my top five favourite authors. I love his way with words. I love how he can get into the head of any kind of character and tell their story in a compelling voice. I love his experiments with style and structure, and I particularly enjoy the way that he blurs the lines between the ultra-literary and the unashamedly fantastical and dramatic. But in the midst of all his cleverness, it's important not to forget that above all, I love him because he tells a great story.

I enjoyed Mitchell's previous offering, the Bone Clocks, and I was also impressed with it, but I didn't love it in the way I loved many of his earlier works. But this book, whether despite or because of its shorter length and more limited scope, sucked me in and blew me away.

At heart, Mitchell is first and foremost a storyteller, a spinner of yarns. And here, in contrast to some of his more sprawling narratives, he tells a relatively straightforward story. Every nine years, on the last Saturday in October, a pair of sinister, magical twins lure an unsuspecting victim to their eponymous mansion. They start by giving the new guest exactly what they want, move on to giving them everything they fear, and then, after toying with both their psychological insecurities and their sense of reality, kill them and devour their souls to further prolong their unnaturally long life and youth. Each of the five chapters focuses on one year, from the seventies to the present day, and is narrated by that year's unsuspecting victim.

In short, the basic plot would fit right into the pulpiest horror novelists' oeuvre, and unlike when some literary authors try their hand at genre fiction, it's just as scary and just as page-turning and compelling as something rather trashier. But at the same time, it's wonderfully written and characterised.

The opening story is told from the POV of a teenage boy with (presumable) Aspergers. That's a device I feel is a little overdone recently, but it was moving and believable. And then in chapter two, we move straight into the almost diametrically opposing head of a wife-beating "Ashes to Ashes" style cop who, "cut my teeth in the Brixton riots and earned a commendation for bravery at the Battle of Orgreave," but who, despite being broadly obnoxious, has enough hidden depths and decency to make you mourn his fate. And on it goes, from compelling voice to utterly different compelling voice, with the mood and pacing subtly shifting with each chapter too, despite the almost hypnotically formulaic plot.

And then there's the difficulty in struggling to understand what's real and what's the twins merciless trickery, which leaves readers just as lost and nervous as the victims, and becomes more complex with each chapter. The villians love to make their victims think they've escaped or better yet, helped someone else to escape, when in reality, they've just walked even deeper into their trap.

One word of warning. I know there were some people who didn't like the more paranormal aspects of Bone Clocks, with the battles between Horologists and the Shaded Way. Though this is ultimately as much a character-driven story of the five victims as it is a plot-driven horror, there's no getting away from the fact that the mythos Mitchell created in the earlier book suffuses this narrative. I'd urge you to give this a chance, but if you really can't stand that sort of thing, this might not be for you.

But for anyone who enjoyed Bone Clocks and wants more of that world, loves Mitchell's writing, or is just looking for a good spooky story that doesn't sacrifice prose or a moving character study that doesn't skimp on plot, I'd highly recommend this. It may be significantly less ambitious than his most famous works, but for me, this is Mitchell's best novel since Cloud Atlas.


The Rose Society (The Young Elites book 2)
The Rose Society (The Young Elites book 2)
Price: £4.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Feels like your average YA but actually much darker, 4 Nov. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The first book in this series, The Young Elites, felt like a very standard and predictable YA fantasy for the first two-thirds, then suddenly went down a more interesting path towards the end, with the heroine accidentally killing the romantic interest instead of falling for his charms. I was therefore interested to see where this second installment went.

Strangely, this book had the same problem as the first. The first half felt quite generic and predictable, and while I was vaguely enjoying it, and liking the fact that the protagonist was a darker than normal heroine, it wasn't capturing my imagination or leaving me desperate to read on. But once again, just when I expected it to go in one direction, it went in quite another, taking a further turn towards a dark, disturbing plot and the villainous protagonist the series kept promising but had previously failed to quite deliver.

I thought the author was brave in her approach, but for me, the opening was a bit too conventional and the ending went a bit too far. I'd have preferred a plot that struck a balance between the two poles right the way through.


Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-15