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Sissel M. Østdahl "smaureen" (Norway)
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The Wild Rose
The Wild Rose
by Jennifer Donnelly
Edition: Paperback

3.0 out of 5 stars Irritating and dislikeable heroine, 21 Feb. 2015
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This review is from: The Wild Rose (Paperback)
I would like to refer to the review written by Nicola F (Nic) for a more covering review of this book, since she obviously is of exactly the same opinion as me.

However, I would like to add to some of what she has written.

There should definitely have been more about Fiona and Tom in this book. Both likeable (which is so important) and the most interesting protagonists in all these books. "The Wild Rose" herself, Willa was not easy to care about. Her lack of concern for her family and later on for Jenny Finnegan and child home in England did not an attractive heroine make, to put it that way.

Also that men fell in love with her and could never forget her, even to the extent that they could never in the whole wild world find another woman to love - was more than unrealistic. Yes, it is fiction, but there is so much realistic, well researched and correct historical information in this book that the wild rose Willa put on such a pedestal feels both hard to believe and downrignt irritating. The only time one feels for her is when she looses her leg. Apart from that, although awful enough in itself, everything about her character and her life is unrealistic and - to me - boring.

There is enough good in this book to - in my opinion - deserve three stars. But I find it most disappointing that the wild rose herself, she who has "earned" the title of the book, is such a dislikeable and tedious character. It's not often you want to slap the book heroine, but I wanted to this time.


Gray Mountain
Gray Mountain
by John Grisham
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £9.00

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mesmerizing in spite of the dark topic, 14 Jan. 2015
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This review is from: Gray Mountain (Hardcover)
This is not easy, fun entertainment - one of Grisham's usual sarcastic stories built on the flaws of the legal world. Elegant, hypnotic page-turners seducing the readers. This is the real world of day to day law in a poor, troubled part of America. There are no big laughs here, although within all the sadness Grisham's fine pen certainly manages to bring little smiles in spite of all the misery.

Samantha Kofer, on furlough leave from BIG LAW firm in New York, gets a job as an unpaid intern in a legal aid clinic in small-town Appalachia. This is coal country. Meth country. Misery country. Everything as different from her life in New York as possible. We follow her in an entirely new kind of life where she meets real people. Poor, desperate and with little or no hope for the future.

As always I admired Grisham's brilliant writing. Mesmerizing, in spite of the dark topic, the sad destinies, the tragedies. Not a book for those who is looking for happy, light entertainment. I needed to take a few breaks, especially in the first half of the book, struck by the endless misery. However, in the second half the action builds in the many cases handled by The Mountain Legal Aid Clinic in Brady, Virginia. Especially so when thousands of revealing documents are stolen from Krull Mining, resulting in involvement by the FBI and Samantha fearing for her life.

I notice there are disappointed reviewers slaughtering "Gray Mountain". They are of course entitled to their opinion. I myself though, admire a totally different kind of work from John Grisham. A difficult, even courageous choice of topic from an author who usually gives us nothing but fun page-turners, elegant courtroom dramas to keep you awake all night.

You may be surprised by this book. Struggle a bit with the many facts from the coal mining business. But in my opinion it's necessary and worth ones attention, not the least for the insight it gives into this ugly business and the many lawyers who spend their lives fighting both for the environment and the poor coal miners who desperately need their help. The "players" in this book make a most interesting gallery of personalities, brilliantly described by the author. In fact, I sincerely hope there will be a sequel following up on the fine heroine Samantha Kofer.

Highly recommended.


Second Chance
Second Chance
by Jane Green
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

1.0 out of 5 stars Buy all the other Jane Green novels, but skip this one!, 5 Jan. 2015
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This review is from: Second Chance (Paperback)
I discovered Jane Green not very long ago and have since then read nearly all her books, just a couple still left and one pre-ordered. And I have LOVED them all, become seriously addicted - until "Second Chance".

What happened here?? Or rather, what did NOT happen here. A group of friends have not seen each other in twenty years but after one of them dies in tragic circumstances they are re-united. I can accept that their friendship seems not to have changed at all. But apart from that, what is this book about?? What is the story, any meaningful twists and turns, fun dialogues .... ?

Holly, mother of two and married to busy (!) lawyer Marcus (with whom she has never been in love and who drives her slightly crazy, thank you very much) hates her life. Well, she loves her two adorable children but could not care less about her big house, her designer clothes and all together safe and comfortable life. She misses fun and feeling sexy, but most of all (she says) she misses friendship with a man!! And since, despite having not seen each other in such a long time, Tom seems to have filled that role in Holly's life, what is more naturally than Holly falling in love with Tom's younger brother Will, who looks just like him. Will is a sexy free spirit and single and tells Holly he had a huge crush on here when they were young. Imagine!!!

There is a lot of rambling about finding out (Holly) "who am I?" and utterly boring emails between Holly and Will, leading to Holly's unfaithfullness. It goes on and on and Marcus, the big bad wolf, becomes more and more distant and unlikeable. A proper house tyrant causing his family to walk on eggshells when he is home. Puh!!

The bits about Anna & Paul, Olivia and Saffron are slightly better but all in all this book was totally boring compared with all those wonderful ones I have enjoyed these last weeks. I skimmed through the second half just to find out how it all ended, hoping for at least some action and/or meaningfullness. But alas. It started out with some promise, dragged along and ended with a BIG jawn!

Buy all the other Jane Green novels, but skip this one.


Bookends
Bookends
by Jane Green
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Not enough of a storyline, 13 Dec. 2014
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This review is from: Bookends (Paperback)
I have just finished this book after a lot of others by Green (and have several others waiting).

As always Jane Green writes easily and with lots of humour. So even if I have given it only three stars, it does not mean that the book is not very enjoyable indeed. But compared with the other ones just read (Saving Grace, Tempting Fate, Mr. Maybe, Jemima J etc.), Bookends does not quite compare. The characterization is great, as is partly the dialogue. Although the dialogue, and not the least those long paragraphs of "sorting out own thoughts" by protagonist Cath, are too long, too detailed and too often quite boring. A good editing needed here.

However, what mainly lacks in making "Bookends" one of Green's top league works, is the lack of a real story. A lot is happening and of course there is the starting of "Bookends", but even that sort of sizzles out into routine after the opening party. (Calling the book "Bookends" makes for a lovely cover, but otherwise this is not a story about a bookstore but of a group of friends then and now.) But there is not enough of a storyline to fill over 400 pages and for the first time reading Green I caught myself yawning....

Jane Green is extremely talented. So far I have loved all her books, even liked this one, although not quite as much as the others. I'm not recommending it as your first choice but perhaps after you have finished all those others you may take a look at it. If not wanting to spend the money, borrow it from your local library.


It Started With Paris
It Started With Paris
by Cathy Kelly
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £8.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Pure genius!, 23 Nov. 2014
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This review is from: It Started With Paris (Hardcover)
Cathy Kelly has always written excellent books. From her early typical chick lit novels mainly about single women to later years' stories about grown women and family life. I knew she was good, but not this good!! "It Started With Paris" is pure genius. Storytelling at its very best. Interesting, entertaining, fabulous characterization, wise, warm, honest and so very cleverly woven together.

Some reviews are critical to the many characters introduced in the beginning of the book. No problem for me. Each person's story could stand on its own feet and later on be easily drawn into the main story.

I'll not go into the story itself. Only conclude that in my view it's the most perfect and fulfilling book about love, friendship, family - about life in all its facets. 500 pages to race through, going far too fast, keeping me awake late into the night. Entertaining and wise at the same time. How alike we all are. How I could see much of my own life in all this. The wonderful, yet complicated and fragile life we spend on this earth.

I'm full of awe and admiration for Cathy Kelly. She keeps getting better and better and is in my opinion Ireland's and one of the world's best female writers of today.


Christmas at Tiffany's
Christmas at Tiffany's
by Karen Swan
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Lovely fairytale but a bit too much!!, 21 Oct. 2014
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This review is from: Christmas at Tiffany's (Paperback)
There are many reviews written of this book; I suppose mine will drown in them all. However, I still wanted to give my opinion for whatever it's worth.

The story, the idea is great, as is the characterization. I have lived in all the three cities (New York, Paris, London) and think the author as captured the pace and way of life rather well, although more than a little exaggerated. Even with help of friends I don't think it would be as easy to get jobs in fashion (especially Dior, dream on....) but this is fiction, so ok. To overdo it, make it so completely into an adventure, makes for fun reading. No everyday boring routine here! A famous fashion photographer, used to beautiful models all over the world, falls in love with heroine Cassie straight from the Scottish moors after a quick cinderella transformation. Yeaah, right, fiction in all its wonderous glory.

But I love fairytales and so I partly loved this book. But only partly. What I did not like was the many little descriptions of mundane this and that along the way. Sometimes interesting explanations/additions, but far too often boring details complicating and slowing down the story. However, it must be said that this varied a lot throughout the book. At times the story developed beautifully, at times it seemed to just stand still.

Also, as for Cassie's destiny, the story was predictable from very early on and I don't think it is a spoiler to say so as it did not really ruin anything, at least not early on. However in the third part, the London part, it all became both obvious and a bit funny. The many adventures Cassie shared with Henry, who was engaged to someone else ..., seemed more like a honeymoon than a sightseeing between friends. I wondered if it was done on purpose or if the reader was expected to be somewhat of a dimwhit.

There is so much good here, people to love, interesting places to visit. But there is too much of most and too much to digest. In my opinion the book could do with good editing. Karen Swan knows her stuff but not everything has to be commented upon.


Saving Grace
Saving Grace
by Jane Green
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £7.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Could this have really happened?, 6 Oct. 2014
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This review is from: Saving Grace (Hardcover)
Could this have really happened? Grace married to bestselling author Ted loves cooking and is having a happy life in their beautiful farm house on Hudson river. Although Ted is a difficult man with a volatile temper, this is efficiently kept in control by his long time assistent Ellen. But then Ellen leaves and mousy, rather timid, Beth takes her place.

In the beginning Grace is quite happy with Beth as she is also helping Grace organize the household and her charity activities. And she certainly does not see her as a threat regarding her husband's affection. In fact, Beth seems a goodsend and Grace cannot praise her enough. Until slowly, things start to change. Grace has always been disorganized but is she as forgetful as she suddenly seems? Has she been changing the date of an important charity event without remembering and has she given her favourite silk scarf to Beth, the scarf given to her by Ted?

Slowly it all turns into an almost psychological thriller. Believable? Well, I think so. As indicated in the book, Beth may be a sociopath which I think is very likely. Trying to destroy someone else's life and even steal it, is frightening and Beth does it all cleverly. Succeeding in having Grace diagnosed bipolar, treated by a psychiatrist, tried hospitalized..... Sociopaths/psychopaths can be very convincing, charming and powerful, much more so than their victims.

As the story unfolds it may seem a bit predictable, but no more so than this being an altogether enjoyable and interesting read. Some reviewers have complained about the recipes at the end of many of the chapters and I agree that these could have been gathered at the end of the book. However, whenever they appear, they refer to the previous chapter where each recipe has been prepared in the story. Grace is a compulsory cook, has always been, it's her greatest joy, so as such the recipes are a great part of her life.

This was my first Jane Green novel and I prompte ordered several more.

Very much recommended!


The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris
The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris
by Jenny Colgan
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.85

5.0 out of 5 stars Happy, bubbly and fun!!, 3 Oct. 2014
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Claire and Anna. Two women's stories in this bubbly book. Lots of happiness and still very realistic about love, life and chocolate!

Caused by an accident in the chocolate factory in England where Anna is working, se looses two toes. In the hospital she meets her previous French teacher Claire, gravely ill with cancer. A friendship grows between the two and Claire suggests that Anna go to Paris to work in a famous chocolate shop.

It's like a fairy tale. Despite old age and illness, love has survived and what should have been only sad and awful becomes a happy and wonderful late life rendevouz in perfect harmony. The description of Paris is beautiful and so alive; you can close your eyes and just be there.

Jenny Colgan writes about real life, but always tinged with lots of laughter, fun and happiness. Her characterization is brilliantly colourful. The description of the dancing scene from "la Boheme" breathtaking.

And of course the making of fresh chocolate. Chocolate to be eaten the very same day. Made with fresh creme, no digestives.
A feast to read about and I'm sure, a feast to taste.

Colgan creates happiness with her bubbly writing. I have just ordered more of her books and can only recommend from the deepest of my heart. Especially if you are a little down, read Jenny and eat chocolate!!


First We Take Manhattan
First We Take Manhattan
by Colette Caddle
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Charming read but without the expected bombshell..., 3 Sept. 2014
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It's not often a book is better in the beginning and middle than towards the end, which happened with this one.

I found the story about the Fields family fascinating. The twins Sheila and Sinead and their successful millinery business. Their smashing brother Max, their father Kieran, a brooding somewhat distant head of the family, and their aunt Birdie who looked after the family over the years but is now sadly suffering from dementia. And there is talented designer Krystie, returned to Ireland from New York after failing to achieve success in The Big Apple and joining Sinead in the hat business.

But a mystery hits the family when Sheila suddenly disappears leaving her car abandoned on a pier. Stricken in their belief that Sheila is dead, may have even taken her own life, they struggle with questions and answers. Sinead misses her twin terribly, goes into a depression, neglects their business and loses the store.

We get all the answers in the end but I find many of them a bit far-fetched. Especially does it not quite ring through that Sheila would go as far as leave her husband and family without a word based on the reasons given in this story. She is searched after by the police, believed dead, it is quite a serious business. An intelligent and responsible woman, it seems to me rather unlikely unless she had suffered from a complete break down.

However, it is a pleasant and at times exciting journey for the reader until aunt Bridie dies and it's time to put the cards on the table. The many characters in the book are interesting and well described. But I expected more of a finale, a real bombshell to top off a charming story in the author's usual easy and entertaining style.

I put it in the category "cozy reading" and recommend it as such. And after all, happy endings are always nice!


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

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't read this book on a weekday......., 1 Sept. 2014
... if you have to be at work fresh and ready after a good night's sleep, because you won't sleep if you start reading another Alan Banks novel and love the guy and his mysteries as much as I do.

DCI Alan Banks is a romantic hero. No matter the mysteries he is set to solve, even one as gruesome as this one, there is always this poetic, sentimental, slightly sad attraction surrounding the man. And the music, of course. There is always the music with Banks.

The mystery this time is intricate and raises a lot of questions involving many and different kinds of people. A whole gang, or rather liga, from the top people down to the "footmen", part of whose indelicate activities take place in abbatoirs. The leaders hiding for a while behind glip charm and willingness to cooperate with the police. The helpers either sitting tight, running or keeping their mouth shut.

Meticulous and partly dangerous police work is executed until the villains are caught. That is, whether the real top leaders will ever be caught is rather unlikly even if the case at hand is solved.

The police force is present in full. Banks, Annie, Winsome etc. And with glimpses into their private lives adding human touch.
A cozy, welcome scenario for the faithfull Banks reader, making one feel at home up there in the Yorkshire Dales.

Excellent both for the faithful followers and for new readers. Peter Robinson at his best!


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