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Profile for Alison Leonard > Reviews

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Alison Leonard (Chester United Kingdom)
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Don't Read This Book If You're Stupid
Don't Read This Book If You're Stupid
by Tibor Fischer
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

1.0 out of 5 stars Felt like asking for a refund, 29 Mar. 2016
From the glaring proofreading error on the first page, through the relentless self-conscious nihilism, to the inappropriate adjective 'compassionate' on the back cover, this was absolutely not my kind of reading. Sorry, but I felt like asking for a refund.


Honourable Friends?: Parliament and the Fight for Change
Honourable Friends?: Parliament and the Fight for Change
by Caroline Lucas
Edition: Paperback
Price: £13.48

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exhilerating - and not just for Greens, 25 Mar. 2015
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Intelligent, punchy, eye-opening - an excellent read. Anyone who wonders why we British live in one of the richest countries in the world but are still fraught with insecurity, inequality and political obfuscation will be enlightened by this book. It's also very entertaining - Caroline Lucas is one of the few politicians who can write. (Read her demolition of Iain Duncan-Smith, for starters.) Best read it before the upcoming election - it might just inform the way you vote.


Alice in Love and War
Alice in Love and War
Price: £5.22

5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping and moving, 20 Feb. 2015
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I loved this book. It goes deep into war and bloodshed and chaos, but is always rooted in Alice's experiences as a girl and a young woman. Rooted too in the practical realities of a girl's life. If you want to know what home life was like before electricity, this will tell you, or what it was like to be ill before modern medicine. If you want to experience life as a sexually-aware young woman before the days of the Pill - again, this will show you. There are probably more shocks for a modern reader in this steadily written YA novel than in many a more openly 'shocking' novel.
I found each of the two love affairs, with such different men, completely convincing - and yet I was also convinced by the decision of the older woman, Christian, to choose a marriage of convenience. I didn't know a great deal about the Civil War, but 'Alice' brought it to life for me. And the part where Alice takes on another woman's baby is wonderfully written, deeply moving.
Highly recommended.


Cover Your Eyes
Cover Your Eyes
Price: £3.49

5.0 out of 5 stars I enjoyed Cover Your Eyes hugely, 17 Jan. 2015
This review is from: Cover Your Eyes (Kindle Edition)
I enjoyed Cover Your Eyes hugely. Having read Adele Geras's previous novels, I was impressed more than ever by how she reaches very deep places with a beautifully light touch. Megan and Eva are very different characters, each with their own living past, and the contact between them unfolds steadily, plunging the reader first into Megan’s disastrous affair, and then leading more slowly into the trauma of Eva’s childhood. By the simple but effective device of a mirror, she hints at Jungian-style resonances without getting embroiled in psychobabble, and evokes complex family relationships with great subtlety. She's at her best with friendship between women, but her men are good, too: the much-loved husband with his complex lusts, the steady lover who can transform into a steady friend, the likely villain who turns out to have hidden depths. The carefully-woven plot brings these all together, with a believable act of letting go to release the happy (but not too pink-ribboned) ending. Highly recommended.


The Barn at the End of the World: The Apprenticeship of a Quaker, Buddhist Shepherd (World as Home)
The Barn at the End of the World: The Apprenticeship of a Quaker, Buddhist Shepherd (World as Home)
by Mary Rose O'Reilley
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.29

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read it again and again, 24 Feb. 2014
This is one of my all-time favourite books of spiritual wisdom. I'm now on my third reading, and I know I will come back to it many more times. Why? Because it has two qualities that are rare in spiritual writing: it's original, and this woman can truly write. She's gritty, funny, unexpected, and every so often she comes up with something that says to you: 'I knew that - but I didn't know I knew it.' One 'health warning': some of the shepherd stuff is gruesome. But it all adds to the growth of this writer and this reader. She has a wonderful sense of irony, is honest to the bone, and if she doesn't know the answer, boy, will she say so. Whether it's sheep s***, Catholic nunnery, sex or Buddhist precepts, everything comes in for her whole-hearted, humane, deeply questioning response. Brilliant.


Various Pets Alive and Dead
Various Pets Alive and Dead
by Marina Lewycka
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hilarious, yes, but deep too, 3 Feb. 2014
I'm a great fan of ML and this is well up to standard at the same time as being quite different from each of her others. Laugh out loud, yes, but with keen insights into the seductive, addictive nature of City gambling and how it gambles away huge chunks of all our lives. The Marxists are wonderfully and intimately portrayed, with their learning disabled, truth-telling daughter the heroine of many scenes. Skilfully plotted, warm of heart - first rate.


Longbourn
Longbourn
Price: £4.99

5.0 out of 5 stars To be put on your shelf worthily beside P&P, 21 Jan. 2014
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This review is from: Longbourn (Kindle Edition)
Well, Tom Stoppard, you have a competitor in the Rosencrantz & Guildenstern stakes. But this is far more than a 'famous work of literature seen from the back- or under-side'. It's a hugely impressive novel in its own right. Beware: this is not a means of understanding Lizzie Bennet better than you did from your many re-readings of P&P; it is a whole new world, one which will turn your P&P world upside-down. How did you feel about Mr Bennet? Fluffy, bit stuffy, stuck in his library to retreat from his wife's Nerves? Think again...

The servants, Sarah, James, Mrs Hill, Ptolemy, are all human beings brought to wild and sympathetic life by Jo Baker. The plot is intricate, the setting and details totally convincing.

Eat your heart out, Jane (if that can happen in the Great Retirement Home For Novelists In The Sky). This one, dare I say it, trumps yours. As for Bridget Jones, forget it. This is the real thing.


Penelope Fitzgerald: A Life
Penelope Fitzgerald: A Life
Price: £7.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A complex life vividly and lovingly portrayed, 21 Jan. 2014
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I love Penelope Fitzgerald's writing, and have wondered - as so many people do throughout this book - 'How does she do it?' Hermione Lee has responded to the family's request for her to write this biography by doing it frankly, faithfully, with full respect for PF's reticence, silences and idiosyncrasies. By the end I felt that I knew PF as well, or as little, as one of her friends might have known her; that her life experiences were extraordinarily rich and cavernous in range; and that I now understand her work a great deal better. Though I still don't know how she did it.

I recommend the book very warmly.


Instructions for a Heatwave
Instructions for a Heatwave
by Maggie O'Farrell
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Even better at second reading, 4 Oct. 2013
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I first bought this to read on my Kindle, and loved it so much that I had to buy it for my hand and for my shelf. I've always admired the energy and the flow of Maggie O'Farrell's writing - how past and present interweave, while she keeps you absolutely in the moment; how sensations, thoughts and insights swoosh alongside twisting plots and magical characterisation. This time she excels with her Riordan family: no short cuts, no easy answers, this family goes in for tough and traumatic relationships - but there's such love in there too, such generosity in the writing. As Maggie says in an afterword, 'Nobody knows you quite like a sibling or a parent, and yet nobody is liable to misunderstand you with such conviction'. Even the youngest children are wild or pernickety characters in their own right.
Here are two of the many, many quotes that will stay with me, which demonstrate the complexities and contradictions of this family. First, Gretta on hearing that her son is to marry a non-Catholic, "(From the bathroom, rattling her pills): 'You may as well kill me now.' 'Fine,' Aoife murmurs. 'Who wants to go first?'" And second, "'Just say it,' Aoife says, still with her back turned. 'It's a word everybody knows, except you, it seems. It begins with s.' 'I'm sorry,' Monica says, to her sister's rigid back."
And while the ending is almost completely happy, my mind begins to imagine the perils to come for each of the characters' new lives. It's still alive, long after I've closed the book.


Turned Out Nice Again: On Living With the Weather
Turned Out Nice Again: On Living With the Weather
by Richard Mabey
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £8.99

15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Mabey's writing marred by poor proof-reading, 5 July 2013
I love Richard Mabey's writing but half way through the first chapter I was already distracted into looking for the next proof-reading error. His publishers, Profile, should be ashamed of themselves. Do they think that readers don't care about such details? I can assure them that we do. I shall persevere, but with a less reputable writer I would have given up.


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