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NickR (UK)

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by Ben Lerner
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £10.49

4.0 out of 5 stars An early candidate for Novel of the Year, 23 Jan. 2015
This review is from: 10:04 (Hardcover)
Ben Lerner showed terrific promise in Leaving the Atocha Station. Now he's delivering. I think we really do have a major new novelist here. The book is playful on many levels and - as others have commented - it repays patient reading.

The only reason I've not given five stars is that I'm still waiting to see if Lerner can write himself into a different protagonist.

The Bone Clocks
The Bone Clocks
by David Mitchell
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £9.99

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fine but flawed, 16 Sept. 2014
This review is from: The Bone Clocks (Hardcover)
It’s always a treat to read a new book by David Mitchell, who is probably one of the best story-tellers writing in English at present, whatever his chosen voice.

Ultimately, though, The Bone Clocks doesn’t quite click. The first four sections are slow to cohere, but offer many discrete pleasures: the gobby teenager; the repellent student; the war correspondent who makes the wrong choice; the marvellously bilious novellist who sort-of comes good. However, the fifth section is just plain silly, in a Dennis Wheatley kind of way, and the final section, which is sad and horribly prescient, belongs in a different novel.

Mitchell's narrative skills, as ever, are of the highest quality.

Total Recall
Total Recall
Price: £6.99

2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars, 4 Aug. 2014
What a disappointment. A total let-down.

Abattoir Blues: The 22nd DCI Banks Mystery (Inspector Banks 22)
Abattoir Blues: The 22nd DCI Banks Mystery (Inspector Banks 22)
by Peter Robinson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £9.00

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sharp as a knife!, 1 Aug. 2014
It's always a pleasure to read a new book by Peter Robinson, and I went through this one in one (long) sitting. It's familiar Banks stuff, and darker than usual. The season is winter; the farms and villages are grim or derelict; the crimes range from the prosaic to the revolting; and the villains, major and minor, are satisfyingly horrible. Dirty Dick Burgess is back, Winsome gets her man (hurray!), Annie Cabbot is as mardy as ever (and who shall blame her?), and Banks still eats and drinks heroically with no apparent effect on his liver or his waistline. It's all very enjoyable. More, please!
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 9, 2014 8:19 AM GMT

by Isabel Allende
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A dreadful book, 11 May 2014
This review is from: Ripper (Paperback)
There's no point in mocking a genre unless you understand it. Isabel Allende clearly doesn't. This is a travesty, and does her no favours.

The Siege
The Siege
by Arturo Pérez-Reverte
Edition: Paperback
Price: £13.48

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A splendid big book, 8 April 2014
This review is from: The Siege (Paperback)
I really enjoyed this book, which covers an enormous canvas. If it's swashbuckling you want, as a reader, your swash will be buckled. If it's warfare, there's plenty of that - a shabby, depressing, ugly, particularly futile type of warfare. If it's flawed characters, there are plenty of those. I think what I enjoyed most was the picture of life in Cádiz, which - despite being bombarded and under siege - still managed to seem a proud, fine city.

The finale... Well, the journey was better than the arrival; so much better that the slightly weak ending didn't bother me.

All credit to the translator, Frank Wynne, whose prose is light, elegant and seems effortless. And a few boos to the editors or proof-readers, who have left a surprising number of errors in the book, not least a brigantine '800 feet in length', which even to this naive reader is clearly wrong.

The Long Fall: A Novel
The Long Fall: A Novel
by Walter Mosley
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful book, 27 Mar. 2014
This review is from: The Long Fall: A Novel (Paperback)
I envy readers who haven't yet discovered Walter Mosley - you have a real treat ahead of you. His books are engaging and complex, his characters humane. Yes, they all have a greater or lesser chip on their shoulders (and quite rightly - who could be black in the United States and not have?) but their concerns are universal and will be familiar to most readers.

I'm simply amazed to find that this book was published in 2009, and hasn't yet received a single review on the UK Amazon site.

AMEND: it has. Don't know how I missed them.

Prokofiev: Piano Concertos [Jean-Efflam Bavouzet, Gianandrea Noseda]
Prokofiev: Piano Concertos [Jean-Efflam Bavouzet, Gianandrea Noseda]
Price: £23.64

3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A revelation, 25 Mar. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I'm not competent to compare this with other recordings, but it was a revelation for me. My exposure to Prokofiev has been quite limited, so I was stunned to discover in these concertos a musical language which was coherent, distinctive, confident, and which spoke so strongly to me. Wonderful.

The Pinecone
The Pinecone
by Jenny Uglow
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.08

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but flawed, 6 Dec. 2013
This review is from: The Pinecone (Paperback)
I've been a fan of Jenny Uglow's for some while, but this book was a little disappointing. Here are a few reasons:

The book has clearly been researched in depth, but it lacks focus. It claims to be the story of Sarah Losh, yet as other reviewers have commented it is at least as much about her family - a very interesting family, which would merit a book in its own right. Also, every time the narrative drifts off into the family archives, it accumulates a clutter of miscellaneous and distracting trivia which should have been sifted out.

The sub-title is "The story of Sarah Losh, Romantic heroine, architect and visionary". Romantic heroine - eh? SL appears to have been a good and distinguished person, but there is nothing, absolutely nothing in this book to substantiate the word "heroine". That's just plain misleading language. I'll bet it helps sell more copies, though.

The writing is also sometimes uncharacteristically careless. A couple of random examples: on p 193 there is the ugly sentence, "This would hurt Sarah, being such a careful gardener herself"; and in pp 281-3 there is a cataphoric shift from 1884 to "this century" which I think will catch most readers off-balance.

Overall, then, the book gives the impression of having started from an unclear brief, and of the raw material having been bundled together in some haste.

If that sounds over-critical, I should also say that I couldn't put the book down, that I would still recommend it with reservations, that it revived my interest in a fascinating period of our past, that I'll visit the church at Wreay just as soon as I can.

LATER: I visited the church, twice - what a wonderful place.

The Big Man
The Big Man
by William McIllvanney
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A terrific book, 29 Nov. 2013
This review is from: The Big Man (Paperback)
I'm grateful to Canongate for reissuing McIlvanney's Laidlaw trilogy, and so introducing me to this overlooked author.

The Big Man is a gripping tale with simple - possibly simplistic - themes: the essential decency of the rust-belt working class; the need for clan loyalty; and implicitly (and more worryingly to the modern reader) the virtual impossibility of retaining one's decency if one's aspirations lie outside the clan. It's strange stuff, with Glasgow villains sharing the page with the protagonist's existential musings. I can't put my finger on where I've read such material before. Hemingway, maybe? Jack London? Orwell? Anyway, Canongate, could you please re-issue the rest of McIlvanney's books so I don't have to trawl the second-hand shelves, and so more readers can re-discover this fine writer?

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