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The Woman in White (Collins Classics)
The Woman in White (Collins Classics)
by Wilkie Collins
Edition: Paperback
Price: £2.50

4.0 out of 5 stars A true classic and wonderful storytelling, 25 May 2016
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I first read this book many years ago and vowed to read it again in the future - which I have just done. The writing is beautiful and I indulged in every word. That said, there were too many words! It's very long winded in places and at times, I was tempted to skip a few pages but I knew that this risked missing some vital information to solve the mystery. The plot is well executed with lots of misdirection and reader manipulation which all adds to the mysterious shenanigans at Limmeridge House and Blackwater Park.

The characters form an interesting and unique cast - a true motley bunch! But their interpersonal relationships worked because of conflict created by their differences and personal agendas.

However, I was disappointed with the last 25% of the book in that I'd already figured out what was what but was still hoping for a final, unexpected twist which unfortunately didn't happen. I was glad to reach the end but overall, am very happy that I took the time to read it again and indulge in the wonderful storytelling.


A Thousand Splendid Suns
A Thousand Splendid Suns
by Khaled Hosseini
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

5.0 out of 5 stars A must-read book about the plight of women in Afghanistan - beautifully written and an emotional page turner, 15 April 2016
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Khaled Hosseini is an exceptionally talented storyteller who yet again, captured my heart with A Thousand Splendid Suns. The story is beautifully written and I felt like I was actually in the book living the dreams and nightmares along with Mariam and Laila. It's a heartbreaking yet uplifting and inspirational story about the plight of Afghan women and in fact, all 'oppressed' women around the world. At times, I wanted to reach into the pages to take them away from the terrible cruelty they had to endure from Rasheed and the other bullies who inhabit that world. But there was also a lovely contrast between the despicable men and the kind men like Tariq who support and nurture the women to be free and successful in their own rights. No women should be treated the way Mariam and Laila were treated.

So this novel was a pleasure the read, a real eye opener and an important discussion about the treatment of women in some cultures. Fact and fiction merged within the pages of this book and it will stay imprinted on my mind for a very long time.


The Lie Tree
The Lie Tree
by Frances Hardinge
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.85

3.0 out of 5 stars A well written novel and enjoyable read but..., 28 Mar. 2016
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This review is from: The Lie Tree (Paperback)
....it was very confusing in places trying to follow the different characters. I had to skip back several times to figure out who was who and what their role in the overall story was. However, I did read it on a train when there were lots of distractions so my attention wasn't fully focused on what I was reading. The story plot itself is very imaginative and I really liked the idea of the Lie Tree and the power it yielded over the characters. The writing was richly descriptive and multi-sensory so I was truly engaged in the place and time. I was left quite disappointed at the end as it felt rushed and not quite what I was expecting/hoping for.

However, it is very well written, structured and plotted out but I felt it lacked that bit of extra 'fizz' that I had been expecting from this book.


In a Land of Paper Gods
In a Land of Paper Gods
by Rebecca Mackenzie
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £13.41

2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed in the story but very well written, 28 Mar. 2016
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Firstly, I want to say that the book is beautifully written with lovely descriptions that fill the senses with the period of time and the trials and tribulations of growing up in that era. Unfortunately, overall the book didn't deliver on the premise because nothing much happened in terms of plot. The cast of characters was diverse and well characterised but the conflict between them felt hurried and diluted - I wanted more drama. Even Etta's plight when she ran away was watered down and I didn't get that 'edge of seat' feeling that I so desperately wanted from these scenes.

However, a very commendable first novel and McKenzie is an author I will read again.


Disclaimer
Disclaimer
by Renée Knight
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.85

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A well written and creative plot for a psychological thriller, 8 Mar. 2016
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This review is from: Disclaimer (Paperback)
The creativity behind this story compelled me to read it because the plot is original and could have been super psychologically creepy in terms of stalker obsession. However, despite generally enjoying the novel, it left me a tad disappointed that the writer hadn't ceased the opportunity to make this even more suspenseful as a white knuckle page turner. In terms of storytelling principles, it hits all the key beats and is very well written and pacy. It just seems to have something missing and it's mainly because of the characters. The main protagonist, Catherine, is a successful career woman who seems to have it all including an adoring husband and a son. However, I didn't much care about what happened to her until the main revelations started coming to light towards the end of the book. The writer could have done some clever foreshadowing earlier on in the novel to make me deeply root for her all the way through - instead, this didn't happen until almost at the end.

However, it is a great story and suspect that it would work better on screen as a movie than as a novel.

Recommended for all psychological thriller lovers!


Insurgent
Insurgent
by Veronica Roth
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding culmination to an excellent trilogy - highly recommended, 29 Feb. 2016
This review is from: Insurgent (Paperback)
Veronica Roth is back with the final book in the trilogy - and it most definitely didn't disappoint. I loved book 1 but thought book 2 sagged a bit as storytelling goes, but the pace and thrill is back with a vengeance with the final book in the series. Having read the backlash against Roth for how she wrote the ending, I was worried about what would greet me when I got the final 3rd of Insurgent, but in my opinion, it was the only ending possible after everything that had happened and after everything all the characters stood for. The characters were a unique and quirky bunch from the start and I liked all of them for their individual flaws, quirks and challenges. The character arcs were exceptionally well written and for that reason, the plot behind this last book in the series was deftly produced and provided a hugely satisfying ending. If it had been written in any other way, it would have been cliched and unsatisfying.


Allegiant (Divergent Trilogy, Book 3)
Allegiant (Divergent Trilogy, Book 3)
by Veronica Roth
Edition: Paperback

3.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as Divergent but still a good book, 29 Feb. 2016
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Definitely not as good as Divergent for many reasons. It suffered the dreaded 'Act 2' sag that many trilogies do, with the story pace slowing, the characters being fairly 'bland' in their actions and overall, not a lot happening. For me, it was a necessary read to get me to the final book in the series but I suspect that if I hadn't read this book, I wouldn't have missed much of the story at all. It didn't hold my attention for long periods of time like books 1 and 3 did, and I didn't yearn to snuggle up at night and read for hours on end.

All of that said, I thoroughly enjoyed the trilogy and highly recommend these books to all ages - especially if you like a good plot, a thrilling read and a satisfying finale.


Divergent (Divergent Trilogy, Book 1)
Divergent (Divergent Trilogy, Book 1)
by Veronica Roth
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book - pacy, thrilling, unique cast of characters, 29 Feb. 2016
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I was curious to read this trilogy to see why it's been so well received amongst the YA reader population and having read all 3 books, I can know see exactly why this is so successful. It's well written (no fancy, literary language - just good old simple writing), very pacy (edge of seat stuff), thrilling (twists and turns at every major plot point) and a wonderful cast of characters who are all unique, flawed but all likeable in their own strange way!

Roth's creative imagination produced a unique storyworld and the plot was deftly crafted from start to finish.

Highly recommended reading


The Versions of Us
The Versions of Us
by Laura Barnett
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.85

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Hard work to read because the structure is too complicated, 5 Feb. 2016
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This review is from: The Versions of Us (Paperback)
This is a noble attempt by the author to write a 3-pronged story in the vain of Sliding Doors but unfortunately, it didn't work for me. It took me the first 50% of the book to really figure out the different story angles and I spent a lot of time flicking back pages to check my understanding as I got confused a lot throughout. I read for entertainment and to switch off after a long day at work, but this book made me work to the point where it was a painful experience.

Having said all of that, it is clear that the writer put a lot of time and effort into crafting the novel and it is very well written from a prose point of view.


The Watchers
The Watchers
by Neil Spring
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.85

4.0 out of 5 stars Supernatural thriller - recommended read, 9 Jan. 2016
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This review is from: The Watchers (Paperback)
This was a departure from what I'd normally read because I'm not a fan of sci-fi but I do like thrillers especially those with a supernatural element, hence why this book appealed to me.

The writing is superb, the plotting is masterful and the pace is fast and thrilling (for the most part). If you aspire to being a writer, Neil Spring's work is definitely a great case study in how to write and, although I wouldn't say it's literary in style, the prose is significantly better than most contemporary novels published today. I found that refreshing as I have read (and written) some drivel myself!!

The story itself is based on a fascinating topic and one which has intrigued me for many years - ever since a young colleague went 'missing' for a few days without trace and came back with no memory of his 'experience' and bearing strange bodily marks which his doctors could not explain. Of course, we all said that he'd been on the 'juice' and had gone off on a major binge spree of drink and goodness knows what else, but he was utterly convinced that he had been 'abducted' and was genuinely saddened when we all laughed off his story as nonsense. Who knows....maybe it was nonsense but his story always left me wondering (especially as the 'event' happened in the mid- 1980's). His story is ultimately what inspired me to read 'The Watchers'.

There are two reasons I didn't give the book 5 stars:

1. I struggled to read the 3rd quarter of the book because the story slowed down considerably and I was frustrated that not much seemed to be happening. However, the final quarter of the novel picked up the pace again and my attention was once again riveted.

2. I'm not a fan of UFO type story plots and I did feel that the intertwining of a satanic cult with the extra-terrestrial power was a step too far in terms of the overall plot. A UFO based story or a cult based story would have been sufficient to examine the hypothesis that Neil set out to explore during this book.

A recommended read.


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