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Femmielala "Book Wormy" (London, UK)

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Cloud Atlas
Cloud Atlas
by David Mitchell
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.03

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Overhyped...or maybe I missed the boat?, 21 Oct 2010
This review is from: Cloud Atlas (Paperback)
I was hoping this book was going to change my life in some way...but unfortunately it did not. I ordered it after hearing it mentioned as being one of the best books of recent years on Simon Mayo's last book review show. I'd heard David Mitchell being interviewed on the Guardian Books podcast and word was that he'd been robbed of the Man Booker Prize that year. The blurb on the back of the book was interesting so my interest was well and truly piqued.

My heart sank when I opened the book and went to the first page to see a Melvillian style journal. I struggled with Moby Dick last year, finding the 18th Century language very heavy going. Thankfully this is only 1 in a series of 6 stories which are linked by the protagonist in the next reading or watching the account of the previous story. Each story is interrupted except the 6th, which is complete. When this finishes the novel goes back and concludes the other 5 stories ending back at the start. Each story is written in a completely different style, a pastiche of a particular style of writing - everything from a lightweight American crime thriller to sci-fi.

It is an interesting structure and the themes Mitchell explores are varied and complex. Human nature, history, survival all feature. It was ever so slightly spoilt for me by the 6th story. Set in a post-apocalyptic future it follows the story of a tribesman. It is written in primitive language which I found incredibly hard going. I have read Irvine Welsh, which has to be read in a Scottish accent so I'm no stranger to having to put in a bit of work for a novel, but this story didn't do enough to hold my interest and it was a little bit too long.

So in summary, an interesting high concept novel which didn't set my world alight as much as I expected but a fairly enjoyable read nonetheless.


What's Going On?: The Meanderings of a Comic Mind in Confusion
What's Going On?: The Meanderings of a Comic Mind in Confusion
by Mark Steel
Edition: Paperback
Price: 7.99

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "...we know so much of it could be put right, but we have no idea how to make it happen.", 17 Aug 2010
Read only because this was lent to me by a colleague, this is not normally a book I would choose to read. My perception is that these days books written by comedians who turn 40 and have a mid-life crisis are ten-a-penny and I though this would be one of those books filled with pedestrian observations of hitting the big Four-O.

Oh, how wrong I was.

What's Going On paints a poignant, honest and at times heartbreaking parallel between the breakup of Mark Steel's relationship and his decision to part with his beloved Socialist Workers' Party (SWP). He writes without any pretension and is funny, thoughtful and insightful. There are some rousing passages peppered throughout the book about effecting change; but more than anything the book highlighted the desperate futility of the fight against the evils of Capitalism which the quote I have used in the title of this review I think sums up beautifully.

Whether you are sympathetic with Mark Steel's politics or not; I challenge anyone not to be a little bit moved by this book. Go on!


The Outcast
The Outcast
by Sadie Jones
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.59

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Richard and Judy do get it right sometimes..., 18 July 2010
This review is from: The Outcast (Paperback)
Father, it has been nearly 9 months since my last confession...I mean...review.

I've been terribly lax and this is the first novel I've read since October last year. I almost feel that I'm not qualified to write any sort of review of this book, but here goes.

One of Richard and Judy's Summer Reads 2008 and winner of the Costa Book Awards First Novel Award, the Outcast tells the story of Lewis Aldridge and how he and those close to him are torn apart by tragedy. Multi layered, it tackles issues such as depression, self harm, physical and mental abuse and sexual awakening. Jones strips those layers away one by one, revealing the raw emotions of the protagonist. You feel his pain, such is the power of Sadie Jones' writing. It is unbelievable that this is her début novel. I really do recommend the Outcast. At times it is not a comfortable read but is definitely challenging and inspiring. A great re-introduction into the world of books and has given me the taste for literature again. My next review will not take me 9 months to post! My next review will also be better than this poor attempt. Apologies fellow Amazonians!


Rosie
Rosie
by Alan Titchmarsh
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.59

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars I wonder if Alan's garden is as untidy as his writing!, 28 Oct 2009
This review is from: Rosie (Paperback)
I would never normally choose to read this type of book, only giving it a go as it was lent to me by a colleague.

It started off fairly promisingly with a few lively characters and the start of interesting, lighthearted plot. Titchmarsh writes humourously and it did make me smile in places. However, the writing was not good enough to sustain my interest and I found that I would often choose to do anything other than read this book.

Alan Tictchmarsh introduces too many plot threads for the length of the book, which means that they are unsatisfactorily and hurriedly tied up in the space of a few pages. The end was an anticlimax and I was left feeling certain that I will never read another book by this author.


A French Affair
A French Affair
by Susan Lewis
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.59

1.0 out of 5 stars Shallow fluff, 12 Sep 2009
This review is from: A French Affair (Paperback)
This book is fine if you want a *very* lightweight holiday read, but if you're after more from a book - avoid!

Jessica Moore travels to the french vineyeard where her young daughter tragically died in a freak accident in order to find answers to her questions. Jessica knows that there is more to her daughter's death than meets the eye, yet is frustrated when her husband and best friend refuse to entertain her suspicions. In France Jessica finds much more than she bargained for in a forbidden love and the revelation of a devastating secret.

It is an unusual situation to be in as a reader when you feel no sympathy for *any* of the characters by the end of the book! In fact, I didn't even like any of them! The adults behave atrociously. They are selfish, self seeking and self involved, putting their desires before anything else. Susan Lewis seems to think that two wrongs make a right. I don't want to ruin the story for you if you are thinking of reading this book, but all I'll say to Susan is - they don't!

A French Affair is dialogue heavy, with most of the dialogue fairly cliched. Another reviewer said that this is little more than a Mills and Boon. I'm inclined to agree with that. Without intending to sound like a literary snob, Susan Lewis writes novels for bored housewives...a bit of sensory titilation in a pituresque setting. No thanks.


New Moon: 2 (Twilight Saga)
New Moon: 2 (Twilight Saga)
by Stephenie Meyer
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.59

3.0 out of 5 stars I'm Team Jacob!, 31 Aug 2009
The second installment in the Twilight Saga is a very different book from the first. Gone is the tentative flush of first love and in it's place is angst ridden heartbreak. After a frightening incident at Bella's 18th birthday, Edward makes the agonising decision to leave so that Bella's life is no longer endangered by his family. Bella is bereft, and sinks into a deep depression - and all this in the first few pages!

Stephanie Meyer uses a novel way of showing the passage of time, and Bella's bleak outlook now that the love of her life has taken flight. As a 29 year old reading an adolescent novel I had to keep reminding myself not to get too annoyed with Bella and remember how painful it is to break up with a first love. Although it was tough not to want to give the protagonist a good slap! Bella is incredibly selfish. As I said in my review for Twilight, as a feminist I have a strong objection to the way the character has been written. Twilight (Twilight Saga) The fact that a woman has written such an awful young female protagonist is quite sad. Bella is self involved, inconsiderate, weak and pathetic. Meyer frequently describes her fragility and her awkward clumsiness. Whereas the men have honourable adjectives like strong and tall. Not forgetting Edward, who is practically god-like in Meyer's eyes.

Notwithstading this, the novel as a whole is enjoyable. There is a great twist involving the La Push native American boys which divides Bella's loyalties. I look forward to seeing how the dichotomy between the two opposing factions of Bella's life plays out in the next two novels.

Unlike some of the other reviewers, I didn't miss Edward's presence in the book...as the lovely Jacob more than adequately filled the gap. Poor hotheaded Jacob, who loves Bella but is destined for heartbreak due to her obsession with Edward Cullen...

Go Team Jacob!


Shadows Of The Workhouse: The Drama Of Life In Postwar London (Call The Midwife)
Shadows Of The Workhouse: The Drama Of Life In Postwar London (Call The Midwife)
by Jennifer Worth
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.59

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A weak sequel, 8 Aug 2009
Jennifer Worth's follow up to the brilliant Call the Midwife follows, in essence, three stories of east enders she came into contact with in her time as a midwife in Poplar, East London.

The title Shadows of the Workhouse seems a little misleading, as the majority of the book isn't really about the Workhouse as such. In Call the Midwife you get a detailed history of midwifery and a first hand account of the profession in the early days of the NHS. I was hoping for something similar in this book. The late Victorian era has always interested me and, in addition, I work in the area where Jennifer worked so I was eager to learn more about the social reform of the day and how the abject poverty experienced by the working class in the 50s compared to the abject poverty still experienced by some in the east end today.

Unfortunately I was disappointed. The book doesn't go into nearly enough detail. I felt with this book that she picked three stories that she had been told and stretched them into nearly 300 pages, peppered with mildly amusing anecdotes from her time living in the Convent. A little mawkish at times too, this book sadly did not live up to my expectations.


A Prisoner of Birth
A Prisoner of Birth
by Jeffrey Archer
Edition: Paperback

93 of 94 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another classic from Archer, 13 July 2009
This review is from: A Prisoner of Birth (Paperback)
I'm a huge fan of Jeffrey Archer. You can say what you like about the perjuring old Tory...he writes a damn good novel!

East End mechanic Danny Cartwright proposes to his girlfriend Beth and they go to a pub in Chelsea to celebrate with Beth's brother Bernie. The night takes a sinister turn when a group of braying upper class young men start insulting the three revellers. Events culminate in Bernie being stabbed to death in the pub alleyway and Danny being wrongly charged with his murder.

At the ensuing trial, the four witnesses for the prosecution are a barrister, an aristocrat, a partner in an established firm and a popular actor. Danny doesn't stand a chance and is sentenced to 22 years in prison. Incarcerated in the highest security prison in the Country, he sets out on a quest for justice and revenge.

This is another epic from Archer. The courtroom scenes and descriptions of life in Belmarsh are detailed yet fascinating. Well, he is rather an expert! This is like three books in one. First you get a more refined, Grisham-esque court drama, then you get the Public-school take on Prison Break, then a brilliantly executed plan of revenge. Archer's mind is astounding.

My only criticism is the slightly high-handed treatment of the working class. I work in the east end described in the book, and I'm not sure that east enders talk the way they do in Prisoner of Birth. It's all cockles and mussels and cor blimey guvnors, which is a little wobbly. However, that aside, this is a hugely entertaining novel and I wouldn't hesitate in recommending it to anyone.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 7, 2014 5:41 PM GMT


Just One More Thing
Just One More Thing
by Peter Falk
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.29

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Just Not Long Enough!, 14 Jun 2009
This review is from: Just One More Thing (Paperback)
I'm not sure if I enjoyed this or not...as I think I blinked and missed it!

I love Columbo, he's one of my all-time favourite tv characters. So I was eager to read Peter Falk's autobiography. Unlike other examples of this genre, Falk doesn't go into mind numbing detail about his early life. Instead he opts to chat with the reader in a friendly, colloquial style and tell short snappy annecdotes about a career that has spanned over 50 years. You could almost imagine that you're sat with him, in a diner, enjoying a bowl of chilli and listening to his stories. Some of them are very amusing, some are a little odd, and some fall a little flat (or maybe I just didn't get them?). On the whole this was an enjoyable book, just too short. I wanted to hear more and I wanted a little more detail. All in all though, a must for any Columbo/Falk fans.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 31, 2010 10:54 AM BST


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4.0 out of 5 stars Entrancing, 14 Jun 2009
Bella Swan moves to a small town in the Pacific Northwest to live with her father when her mother remarries. There she meets Edward Cullen, a mysterious boy from an equally mysterious family. He possesses preternatural good looks, making him both beguiling and completely unattainable. When paired together in class, at first Edward seems repulsed by Bella. In fact she awakens a yearning in him that he has managed to suppress for nearly 100 years, a thirst for human blood. For Edward and his adoptive family are vampires who have, over the years, managed to conquer their lust for human blood by hunting wild animals and therefore enabling them to live among humans and lead "normal lives". Edward and Bella are drawn to each other, despite Edward trying to fight against it as he knows he could easily endanger her life. The closer they get, the deeper they fall for each other and it becomes clear that they can't stay apart, even though they know how dangerous it could be.

Twilight is a stunning novel, absolutely stunning. Stephanie Meyer captures the nuances of human, in particular teenage, behaviour. The agonies experienced with apparently unrequited love and first exploratory feelings when that love is reciprocated. Meyer captures perfectly the fragility of their relationship, as well as its simmering dangerous passion. As a reader you can feel the intensity of their feelings. It's utterly spellbinding.

However, Bella is a frustrating character. Insipid at times, she has set the feminist movement back about 50 years. She comes across as weak and selfish. The reader is constantly reminded how fragile and clumsy she is, and how she needs to be protected, ironically, by the person who could do her most harm. This really offends my feminist side! I'm not entirely keen on the allegory. I have read that Meyer is a devout Mormon, who is preaching carnal abstinence through her Twilight books. This in itself I don't have a problem with. However, the cover shows the blood red apple, which has become the symbol for temptation. The Adam and Eve metaphor doesn't sit very well with me. That Bella is the weak one, who would readily give into her desires and therefore bring about untold destruction, makes my hackles rise. That this character has been written by a woman, in the 21st Century, is frankly disappointing.

Putting aside my feminist, secular leanings for a moment, this book is beautifully written. It is atmospheric and fascinating. For this reason I am looking forward to starting New Moon. An absolute must must MUST read!


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