Profile for emma who reads a lot > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by emma who reads...
Top Reviewer Ranking: 192
Helpful Votes: 5072

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
emma who reads a lot (London)
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   

Show:  
Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-20
pixel
The Children Act
The Children Act
by Ian McEwan
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 8.00

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hallucinatory but strangely cool, 2 Sep 2014
This review is from: The Children Act (Hardcover)
The Children Act, with its odd, cagey title and cool, unforthcoming cover, seems to be doing its best to be unseductive... but start reading, and within a page McEwan's intense, detailed prose summons up the world in which we live, inches from our noses. His fictional London is so particularly drawn - corridors, staircases, kitchens, courtrooms - that it's sometimes difficult to recall that it's not actually real.

What then of the story? Fiona May is a judge, married but without children, nearing her sixtieth birthday. She specialises in family law, cases which involve children and parents: divorces, adoptions, painful territory. In the opening scene, she is in her study, trying to write a very difficult judgement, when her husband comes in to announce - very shockingly - that he wants to have one last affair before he's past it, and that he already has just the person in mind.

We then follow Fiona May at work, making extraordinary judgements about life and death - particularly in the one case that we follow through the whole book - whilst also seeing her try to deal with the bombshell in her private life. At work she must rule on a decision that affects a young man just under the age of adulthood - he is seventeen and nine months I think - and they get emotionally bound together by her judgement in a way that is fascinating, and which has echoes back to Enduring Love and other McEwan books about the strange bonds that can develop between people in odd situations.

However, the book - or perhaps I should say Fiona May's character - is so restrained that I could never quite get to the point of being enchanted by it. Or even really annoyed by it (I'm thinking of Atonement there....). It is almost hallucinatory in its ability to conjure up a world, and I am really glad if there are real people in the world this cool-headed and professional making judgements on these most personal of legal issues - but for me, it just didn't quiiiiite do it. I have hummed and ha-ed between four and five stars: four is churlish, but five seems too much. Imagine an invisible half...


Philip Larkin: Life, Art and Love
Philip Larkin: Life, Art and Love
by James Booth
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 13.60

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exceptionally good, 31 Aug 2014
Rarely does a biography have the flowing impetus of a novel, where you find yourself longing to get back to it, daydreaming through work about finding out 'what happens next'. It's obvious why that is - mostly, you already know a life's ending... But James Booth's biography of Larkin seems in several ways to me to be a major achievement. Firstly, it's enormously generous, about a man who has definitely been subject to most of the central twentieth century accusations (racist, misogynist, pervert, Thatcherite, imperialist, even Nazi - see the detailed discussion of Sidney Larkin's mantelpiece ornaments...).

Booth is determined to retell Larkin's story as that of a kindly boss, encouraging his female staff to sit exams and get qualifications (as well as sometimes admiring their figures and vicariously enjoying their love affairs) a warm friend, and a devoted if utterly confused son and lover to Monica, his main lifetime companion. But at the same time as arguing for the good in Larkin, he never deceives the reader as to the vacillation, the desire for solitude, the duplicity, which the man possessed. (And even where you completely disagree with his conclusions, failing to damn Larkin for what I can only see as racism, for example, he provides enough quotes for you to make your own mind up, which I did.)

This is also a biography fundamentally centred on the poetry, and if you don't have a copy of the poems I'd order one because there are pages and pages of good detailed analysis. Both weigh in together at just under 1.5kilos, so it's a commitment to read it on the tube... and yet I did make that commitment and was glad every time.

Most of all, as well as seeming fair, interesting, balanced and knowledgable, it's an enjoyable read - with just the right level of detail. Larkin dyed his own socks mauve! He said the influence of Yeats was 'as pervasive as garlic'! Brill.There's even two examples from Larkin's pornography collection, which are both utterly tame and also at the same time, extraordinarily evocative of a time and place now vanished...

If you have ever enjoyed his poetry, I really highly recommend this book. Illuminating and also fun, what more could you ask for? (Except for it to be slightly lighter in weight?)


Lego 70013 Chima - Equila's Ultra striker
Lego 70013 Chima - Equila's Ultra striker
Offered by MedClub
Price: 27.80

5.0 out of 5 stars Equila's Striker is a killer, 26 Aug 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Very enjoyable. I love the big caterpillar track vehicles, even though it's not like they're THAT reusable in other models once taken apart. Again, my son is only little and he had no trouble getting it all together - the step-by-step instructions these days are so clear that he can almost do it completely on his own. And a great looking, very solid vehicle once finished. Has stayed together a lot longer than some of the planes, which are all quite fragile....


LEGO: Legends of Chima - DVD 4 (DVD) (FSK 6)
LEGO: Legends of Chima - DVD 4 (DVD) (FSK 6)
Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: 14.54

5.0 out of 5 stars Catch up with Chima, 26 Aug 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is a German DVD but contains English language option so you can watch some of the episodes from series 1 NOT yet released on UK DVD to your heart's content. The structure isn't quite the same as the UK DVDs - this runs from episode 12 to episode 16 inclusive, and the UK dvd finished with 10 so we had to miss one, but that's not the DVD's fault. Anyway, just to reassure any parents of desperate Chima fans currently watching episodes in Russian on youtube that there is another option


LEGO Legends of Chima 70142: Eris' Fire Eagle Flyer
LEGO Legends of Chima 70142: Eris' Fire Eagle Flyer
Price: 19.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good value and great playability, 26 Aug 2014
Loved this. Eris a favourite in our house, and it's just a nice neat design, great bird head, fun weapons... I could slightly live without the claws and feathers which inevitably fall off right in the middle of the game, but Eris is an Eagle and they're sort of necessary. V clear and easy to make instructions, my four and a half year old did almost the whole thing on his own. And quite a big solid thing at the end for only twenty quid, which isn't something I ALWAYS say at the end of a box of Lego....


LEGO Legends of Chima 70144: Laval's Fire Lion
LEGO Legends of Chima 70144: Laval's Fire Lion
Price: 31.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fire Lion exposes weaknesses in maker's Lego skills which other Chima may not reveal, 26 Aug 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
First things first: we love Chima in our house. But second: this one is particularly hard. Tricky little manoeuvres reminiscent of old-fashioned Technic Lego, and my god, I think I've done about 14 rebuilds of little bits my son had missed from the instructions. I know it says 8-14 on the box, but seriously, Lego Chima appeals to infant school children, and this was way the hardest one we've built. AND WE'VE STILL got problems with the caterpillar tracks. So, lots of functionality, humour in the jaw-dropping (literally) lion head, but seriously, there is a massive skills-gap between Who Chima Appeals To and Who Could Actually Build This. And I HATE whoever invited the caterpillar tracks because I've taken it apart three times and I still can't see what's going wrong, and yet, it IS going wrong.


Dear Committee Members
Dear Committee Members
Price: 3.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Made my eyes water I laughed so much, 23 Aug 2014
It's not often you read a REALLY funny book. Book reviewers will say something was 'side-splitting' or 'laugh out loud' and actually it just had about three really good jokes in it. This however, is the real deal. I don't want to oversell this book, but it's freaking hliarious.

And ALSO it's just so clever... The whole book is formed of letters - and not just any letters - those stupid letters of recommendation you have to get from your old university tutor for your next course / job application. The book's central character Jay, is a creative writing teacher, and through the series of recommendations he must write for other people, you find out about his story and that of people around him. His championing of his pet student, who cannot get funding, his disastrous exes (theres a Reply-All catastrophe he alludes to occasionally which we can all sympathise with...) the students who will only write about zombies and murder... How Schumacher managed to tell a story at all through these short disparate pieces is a technical marvel - how she made it so funny must just be down to her being, well, excellent.

I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys funny literary novels such as When We Came to the End, or Confederacy of Dunces; anyone who likes a quirky literary conceit; anyone who's done a creative writing course; and generally anyone who finds office politics a bit frustrating but can sort of see the hilarious side.... God, I'm buying copies for loads of people as soon as it's an actual book.

SO enjoyable, please try it...


Daisy Miller and An International Episode (Oxford World's Classics)
Daisy Miller and An International Episode (Oxford World's Classics)
by Henry James
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.50

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The long-winded one aces this short novel, 4 Jun 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Henry James may be famously long-winded most of the time, but Daisy Miller, here just a 66-page novella, packs a massive punch and shows his equal mastery of the short form.

Daisy Miller is a young woman brought to Europe by her mother, who quickly shows herself to be incompetent at observing European social standards, though she is so innocent that is hard to judge any of this too harshly. James excels at posing the questions about Daisy, her brother and mother, without ever answering them, leaving the reader both perplexed and delighted by his portrayal of turn of the century society rules and mores.

Randolph Miller, Daisy's brother, is another one of HJ's amazing child characters, and is a lesson to anyone who thinks you need to have kids, or even be in a relationship, or be straight, to write well about children. He is totally entertaining. In fact there are many moments of comedy, with Daisy's hopelessly unchaperoning mother, too. There's a young Italian who speaks English better than anyone was expecting, and it turns out he has 'practised the idiom upon a great number of American heiresses'...

But in all in all the story has a darker heart than this light description might suggest, and I thoroughly recommend it. Adrian Poole's excellent introduction makes it clear we should think of HJ's preoccupation with the question of what value Europe should have in the eyes of Americans... Fascinating, entertaining, and finishable in an hour or two on the sofa: 10/10


Portrait of the Writer: Literary Lives in Focus
Portrait of the Writer: Literary Lives in Focus
by Goffredo Fofi
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 16.97

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A spectacular, unusual choice of photographs, though definitely a picture book!, 4 Jun 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This rather beautifully-produced Thames & Hudson book aims to show 250 of the world's greatest writers, each in a single image with a brief biography on the facing page. It has been translated from the Italian, and certainly displays a definition of 'world writers' which is continental in outlook, and far broader than I imagine a British publishing house might attempt if doing the project from scratch. There are some really famous pictures in the book - the lovely image of Garcia Marquez which graces the cover, William Faulkner with his dogs, Zadie Smith draped over the sofa looking unbelievably glamorous, the only pic of Pynchon we have, swiped from his college yearbook...

But there are also many I'd never seen before, and many authors I'd never seen a photo of before (despite having read many of their books - Joseph Roth for instance, a round fat interesting face...). And a few authors I'd never even heard of before - especially from China; Osvaldo Soriano from Argentina; Kateb Yacine, originally Algeria, died in France. It's a good kick to turn attention outwards and chase down a few of these illustrious writers in translation.

I thought the biographies were actually very useful and well-written, highlighting major works of each author and giving a good short intro. And whilst it is a fundamentally rather highbrow exercise, it nonetheless DOEs include Nick Hornby.


Bark
Bark
by Lorrie Moore
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 10.49

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ignore the criticism: some (at least) of this book is A1 extraordinary, 20 Mar 2014
This review is from: Bark (Hardcover)
Lorrie Moore has come in for some fire on this new book, and at least one other Amazon reviewer has pointed out the weight of expectation that attended this one: the length of time since she last published a collection could partly explain some people's disappointment.

And certainly, the first couple of stories (taking up 60ish pages) were ALSO in the bright orange Collected Stories, so that's slightly frustrating Value For Money-wise.

Also, the earlier stories in the book - like 'Wings', about a late thirties / early forties couple in a failing rock band, still not giving up hope of fame, or at least fortune - are verging on depressing.

But if you LOVE Lorrie Moore please BUY this book and READ IT ALL THE WAY TO THE END. The two last stories - one about a couple who've known each other since school, who've always had a thing for each other, and who meet up in Paris - and the other about honestly one of the craziest, best weddings in the whole of fiction - MUST NOT BE MISSED. One made me spit out my tea laughing, the other made me cry.

Sorry to put on Key Caps but seriously, this is actually important. Please buy the book.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 22, 2014 10:13 AM BST


Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-20