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Littlepig Littlepig (UK)

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The Kingdom of Childhood
The Kingdom of Childhood
by Rebecca Coleman
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.44

5.0 out of 5 stars A haunting, thought-provoking story, 27 Jun 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This book sounds a salacious sex scandal from the blurb on the cover, but don't be put off (or turned on if that floats your boat) ... it's a well-crafted, sensitively-observed and haunting novel which exhibits a true writing talent. As Judi's life begins to unravel, she becomes embroiled in a passionate affair with one of her teenage students, Zach. The story is told from both her perspective and that of Zach and it becomes strikingly obvious that the two view what is happening very differently. The story backtracks into incidents in Judi's childhood and the reader forms a vivid picture of all the characters in the book, even the mere incidentals.

The writing is careful and descriptive without being flowery. The author exhibits great knowledge of people - both adolescents and adults - and despite the increasingly desperate situation you wind up feeling sorry for all involved and hoping for an impossibly happy outcome.

I will certainly look out for more from this author.


Strong Woman: Ambition, Grit and a Great Pair of Heels
Strong Woman: Ambition, Grit and a Great Pair of Heels
by Karren Brady
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 11.02

4.0 out of 5 stars Real Girl Power, 18 Jun 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Karren Brady may be a great businesswoman, but she's no writer. I did find my attention wandering to other things as I read her book, but that is because I have no interest in business. Brady's story is interesting, inspiring and worth reading, having said that! Brady looked at how her father had built up his business and decided to do the same, with the result that she managed a football club at the age of 23 (a phenomenal feat no matter what you think about football).

Her story is told in a matter-of-fact manner. She just says it how she sees it without thinking about how this may jar the reader, hence it's quite difficult to enjoy reading a very plain-written book. But it's a real credit to her that she has come as far as she has and successful relationships with both her husband and her children, and it's interesting to learn more about the woman who really has done phenomenally well in what is tradiationally a male-dominated environment.


Ancient Light
Ancient Light
by John Banville
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 16.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A bit of a dozy read, 18 Jun 2012
This review is from: Ancient Light (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This - the first I have read by Banville - is a well-written book, it's just not terribly interesting. The plot - that of a teenage boy who has an affair with his best friend's mother - should be piquant, but ultimately the reader remains as unfulfilled as presumably his lover did. The narrator, looking back on his youth, has some challening relationships (with both his wife and his late daughter) but it's never really explained why these are challenging. I would hazard a guess that it may have been because of the great scarring affair he had, but reality shows that this turned out very differently to how he thought it would.

The characters are not very interesting either: a faceless wife, a shadowy daughter, a depressed actress - where do they all fit into his life? I struggled to care about them and thus about the story as a whole.

That's not to say the book isn't worth reading. There are some utterly beautiful phrases which really leap to the reader's attention: in one paragraph Banville likens his heart to, like a neglected dog, giving a hopeful "woof"m and in another a sob catches in his throat like an "unlaid warm egg". He has a really original way of writing and the fact the story drags and isn't madly interesting wouldn't put me off reading another of his books because of the beauty of his prose, but one does need a bit more of a pull in the narrative.


The Woman who Went to Bed for a Year
The Woman who Went to Bed for a Year
by Sue Townsend
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 18.99

3.0 out of 5 stars As interesting as going to bed for a year, 15 Jun 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I am a fan of Sue Townsend, but unfortunately I didn't find this book lived up to her earlier work. Mainly because I personally didn't find it very interesting. In Adrian Mole Sue created a parody of teenage angst but Adrian was a believable character; none of the protagonists in this book are three-dimensional. We have the longsuffering wife (Eva Beaver, who decides to go to bed for a year), the adulterous husband, the two highly intelligent but rather dull children, and various others popping in and out of the story. None of them intrigued me and I didn't care about them. Nor did I care about why Eva (the heroine) was in bed for so long or when she was going to get out. There really is a limit to how interesting a year in bed can be and this sums up the book, unfortunately!

It won't put me off reading another by Townsend but I hope the next one has a little more action and zest.


The Peach Keeper
The Peach Keeper
by Sarah Addison Allen
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.67

3.0 out of 5 stars A little too whimsical for its own good, 5 Jun 2012
This review is from: The Peach Keeper (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I began The Peach Keeper with high hopes, as the author reminded me of Alice Hoffman, hinting at magic and unusual secrets. The story however ultimately fell flat. Two young women who were distanced as schoolgirls kindle unexpected friendship and romance when a dark secret in their neighbourhood is uncovered. The story itself is fairly good, if basic, but the twists about magic and odd things happening didn't work for me. I felt they were a little forced, and dropped in unnecessarily. The prose is good - there are some lovely lines in it - but I didn't really care what happened to any of the characters by the end, and to be honest you could see all the ends tying together a mile off. An amiable book but not one I would re-read and certainly not up to Hoffman's spellbinding standard.


The Flowers of War
The Flowers of War
by Geling Yan
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 10.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sparse and shocking, 5 Jun 2012
This review is from: The Flowers of War (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I haven't yet seen the film of this book but am seeking it out following completing the novel. Schoolgirls kept in a church for sanctuary are horrified by the arrival of prostitutes seeking protection within its walls from the Japanese, followed by some injured Chinese soldiers. The elegant little book is both a study of society and young girls as well as a shocking glimpse into perhaps a less-told story of World War 2, and I found it very hard to put down. It is simply and sparsely written without going over to hyperbole or unnecessary detail and works extraordinarily well. I recomemend it.


Tuesday's Gone: A Frieda Klein Novel (Frieda Klein 2)
Tuesday's Gone: A Frieda Klein Novel (Frieda Klein 2)
by Nicci French
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Original series but is it up to the usual standard?, 5 Jun 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I've always really loved Nicci French's work (the husband-and-wife partnership behind the pen-name!) but I'm not 100% sure about the latest series, based around Frieda a psychologist who seems to keep sticking her nose into police affairs whether she's supposed to or not. Frieda herself is an interesting and well-developed character, and you certainly root for her, but sometimes she does the silliest things and the reader may lose patience with her after a while.

This is the second book about Frieda and carries on from Blue Monday in which she was introduced. In this one Frieda investigates the discovery of a man's body in the flat of a mentally-ill lady. Where did he come from? Of course our intrepid not-detective finds out but only by the oddest of coincidences and most tenuous of links which the reader may struggle to believe.

I don't think that these books work as well as the stand-alone novels done by the partnership but they are certainly most readable and are original. The author(s) display a keen interest in, and understanding of, human psychology and as a result the Nicci French novels are deeper and more enticing than your average crime story. I will certainly be looking out for the next one.


Dare Me
Dare Me
by Megan Abbott
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 10.39

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Original and eye-opening view of American adolescence, 17 May 2012
This review is from: Dare Me (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Even though I'm an English rose (of sorts) I always longed to be a cheerleader: the glamour! The popularity! The excitement" Abbot's book lays open the 'truth' of cheerleading - the darker side of it (bullying, injury, eating disorders, pressure, potential Body Dysmorphic Disorder) and writes in a gripping if sometimes painfully observant manner. I haven't read her previous book but devoured this: she has such a talent of making you feel you are listening to the thoughts of her teenage narrator, Addy. When a new dynamic coach comes to lead the squad, adulthood and adolescence collide in a startling way with tragic results.

The book's talent I think lies in the fact that Abbot doesn't spell everything out: she hints. The reader often has to make up their own mind (for example some of the things that she suggests happen to Beth). The environment of cheerleading may be alien to foreign readers but this doesn't diminish the power of Abbot's writing. I will certainly seek out her previous novel and look forward to reading more from her.


Revenge of the Tide
Revenge of the Tide
by Elizabeth Haynes
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.59

17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 7 May 2012
This review is from: Revenge of the Tide (Paperback)
I couldn't stop raving about Into The Darkest Corner, but feel very disappointed and let down by Revenge of the Tide. It doesn't have the same menace and tension as Haynes's debut and the heroine is two-dimensional (every man who meets her falls in love with her) and weak (she tries to find out what's going on, a man starts kissing her to distract her, and she promptly has sex with him again). It was a typical dodgy-gangster story without anything really going on and I put it down feeling relieved I'd finished it rather than hyperventilating as I did at the end of Darkest Corner!

I would certainly read the next book by Haynes because she is a good writer, but I do hope that the next offering is an improvement on this one.


The Other Half of Me
The Other Half of Me
by Morgan Mccarthy
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 10.44

3 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ultimately unsatisfying, 9 April 2012
This review is from: The Other Half of Me (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Morgan McCarthy is an author I would read again, but I wouldn't revisit this particular book. It's the story of Jon and his sister Theo whose childhood is veiled in secrecy. As they grow up with their eccentric famous grandmother and aloof mother, er - not very much happens. They meet various people, and Theo goes off the rails... and that's it. I wasn't surprised or shocked by the ending, and I didn't feel much for the characters in the story, which is a shame, as some of the prose is often beautiful. As I said, the author is someone I'd try again, but I hope for her next offering to be a little more tightly-written and more enthralling.


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