Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop Black Friday Deals Week in Fashion Cloud Drive Photos Shop now Learn More Shop now DIYED Shop now Shop Fire Shop Kindle Paperwhite Listen in Prime Shop now Shop now
Profile for Mrs. S. Payne > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by Mrs. S. Payne
Top Reviewer Ranking: 2,982
Helpful Votes: 836

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
Mrs. S. Payne (UK)

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-20
That Girl From Nowhere
That Girl From Nowhere
by Dorothy Koomson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £7.00

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Such a disappointment!, 22 April 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: That Girl From Nowhere (Hardcover)
I am a huge Dorothy Koomson fan and was so excited about her new book that I set myself a reminder in my diary and purchased it on the day of UK release. I had seen that the reviews already written were all positive and I got stuck into reading it straight away.

The book follows Clenency Smittson (Smitty), an adopted lady in her mid-thirty’s as she starts a break-up from her husband, Seth. A chance meeting leads Smitty to meet her birth family, whom she has never looked for, but the reunion with them is not all smooth. Smitty is put in an awful position and forced to make a decision that she doesn’t want to make.

Other characters in Smitty’s life with her ex-husband, include her recently widowed adoptive mum who has just moved in with her, her jealous cousin Nancy and young daughter Sienna and a possible new relationship in the form of Tyler the coffee shop owner. The book follows all the characters and their relationships with Smitty and we see those relationships change as more events unfold.

I think I must be the only person who didn’t like this book. I found it really boring, uninteresting and Smitty was an annoyance. I struggled to relate to Smitty or any of the characters and the storyline was predictable and dull. The style of writing was good and easy to follow but I felt that the email chapters from Smitty’s sister to their elusive Brother were unnecessary and didn’t really have a point. The ending is weak and the whole book seemed to pass my by without effecting me in any way emotionally which is nothing like my previous Koomson encounters.

I am so disappointed and I don’t want to stop reading books by Koomson, as she is one of my favourites, I just hope that I misunderstood this book and will relate better to the next one.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 24, 2015 9:56 AM BST

She's Come Undone
She's Come Undone
Price: £5.99

4.0 out of 5 stars I liked but didn't love, 13 April 2015
This review is from: She's Come Undone (Kindle Edition)
This is the first Wally Lamb book I have read and was recommended to me by a friend on Twitter, as I Tweet my review and booky thoughts. I had no expectations at all when starting this book and all I knew was the burb on the back.

The story follows Dolores Price from the age of 4 to middle age and the life she has had. I found Dolores immediately likeable even when she was doing some truly awful things to people. She starts as a very naÔve young child and we follow her through divorce, rape, death, depression, obesity, infertility, infidelity, abortion, AIDS and probably more! We follow her as she is made a stronger person by each one of the awful things that happen to her in her life. Dolores manages to maintain her humour and you can really feel how she feels.

I love books that span over many years, so I really enjoyed this aspect. The writing is very easy to read and follow and the humour is a light relief from all the doom and fear that flows throughout the book. The book evokes a whole range of feelings from the reader, sadness, laughter, fear, closeness, sympathy, anger, frustration - just to name a few! I particularly enjoyed the ending as it was satisfying but not in a Disney kind of way...

I did enjoy this book but I didn't love it. I'm glad I read it and Dolores will stay with me for a while and, like many others, it's hard to believe that this was written by a man. I would recommend this book if you want a good read with lots of emotions that will stay with you for a while.

The Martian
The Martian
by Andy Weir
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.85

5.0 out of 5 stars You don't need to be a geek to enjoy this book, 7 April 2015
This review is from: The Martian (Paperback)
I am a bit of a space fan. I am continually fascinated by the whole process of sending people into space and I am ever grateful to twitter for allowing me to see the photos that astronauts are tweeting live from space. Aside from this, I have not actually read many space stories and I am not sure why this is. I think it’s because I need a space story to feel realistic and not actually involve aliens trying to destroy us all. I came across The Martian when it was part of the Richard and Judy book club but did not pick it up until recently. I am not a statistician, nor do I have any great knowledge of NASA processes, I just read this book for the enjoyment as a spectator.

The basic storyline is that NASA has set up a chain of expeditions to Mars but very soon after landing the third one, it is aborted due to a wild dust storm and the scientists have to leave. During the storm, one of their colleagues, Mark Watney, is injured and the crew assume him to be dead and have only a couple of seconds to make the decision to leave Mars without him. A while later Mark wakes to find himself stranded on Mars with little hope of surviving until the next scheduled mission. With the next mission years away, air and water are not the problem for him but he doesn’t have enough food to last that long. He is facing starvation on Mars and to make matters worse, NASA also thinks he is dead and he is left with no way of communication with them.

Let’s just say, I was hooked.

Mark is a character that I didn’t immediately warm to. I sympathised with his horrific situation and was willing him to somehow make it off Mars alive but, certainly initially, I didn’t actually like him. Whenever we hear from Mark in the book, it is written by him in the form of a journal. This way, we get to see his personality and thought process around things that are happening to him. He has a witty and sarcastic sense of humour which, paired with the good satire jokes, I found quite funny. As I spent more time with Mark, I warmed to him a lot.

Mark's story to us changes from his journal entries, to the NASA side of the tale as word begins to filter in and NASA becomes aware that Mark is actually still alive. I felt that NASA’s reaction to the whole situation is well detailed and their plans and frantic meetings felt real. There is a real desperation to save Mark and we get the feel of the whole world rooting for him and it’s quite touching to read.

There are many, many technical explanations that Mark gives us through his time on Mars and I don’t think that I could say that I actually understood any of them but this did not detract from the story for me. The book feels very well researched and the visuals presented mean that you can picture Mars - the cold, the barren landscape, the dust and the complete loneliness.

My only real negative with the book is the lack of feeling I sometimes felt from Mark. I could only assume that if you were facing the rest of your life (and then inevitable death) on Mars, that you would have had more thoughts about this. Would you not contemplate life and death and question things you have done with your life or have thoughts of your family? All of this was missing and, coupled with the fact that Mark was consistently upbeat, detracted slightly from the ‘real’ feel of the situation. It didn’t need to be all doom and gloom but some thoughts of home or family I would have considered normal. Mark spent a lot of time on Mars but although the journal entries show how many ‘sols’ he has been there for, the time seemed to fly past and I didn’t really feel a full sense of over a year going by. Mark made no comment on his anniversary on Mars and I think that this made me not fully appreciate the timeframes.

Overall, I was hooked on this book; it may not always be factually or emotionally correct but I felt it was full of action, provides good escapism, and is well written and definitely a page-turner. I read it in no time and am looking forward to more work by Andy Weir.

Station Eleven
Station Eleven
by Emily St. John Mandel
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.85

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great, even if you're not a sci-fi fan, 27 Mar. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Station Eleven (Paperback)
I have an interest in sci-fi and post-apocalyptic settings and, although not many, I have read a few books on the subject. I am selective about the ones that I read and this means that I generally enjoy them. I tend to wait a while after a book has been published and see what the reviews are like before I make a decision on this type of book and I had my eye on Station Eleven for a while and the reviews were positive, so I got myself a copy.

Like most post- apocalyptic books, the timeline jumps around to before and after the disaster struck. Basically, the world as we currently know it has collapsed due to the huge (almost instantaneous) spread of the Georgia Flu. There is no electricity, no internet, no fuel, and, like all post-apocalyptic novels, 99% of the world’s population has died but a small group of people have survived. That is where the similarity between this book and other post-apocalyptic books end.

The story focusses on the lives of the Travelling Symphony, 20 years after the pandemic, alternating with scenes from just before the collapse. The Travelling Symphony contains an unusual mix of characters, each with their own story of how they got where they are and we learn their stories and history as the book develops. In the days before the flu, the story focusses on Arthur Leander, a celebrity and accomplished actor, who died on the day of the flu outbreak but did not die because of the flu. Arthur’s legacy lives on in the new world after the flu and we meet various characters that have either met Arthur or have an interest in him in some way.

I really enjoyed this book and I think that one of the main reasons that I liked it so much is because I found it completely believable. This situation is something that could potentially happen and that fact fascinated me. So many post-apocalyptic books seem to focus on aliens or explosions or the living dead, but the fact that this was just a flu virus made it a bit more real.

The characters are very well written and I found myself relating and enjoying them all. I loved the flow of the story, before and after the outbreak, and how all the characters have a common thread and all intertwine in some way. I found the characters vibrant, human and believable and the references to the post-apocalypse world haunting and chilling. The writing is clear, tender and blunt.

I read this book on my Kindle, so didn’t realise how big it was, I sped through the book in no time and could easily have kept going. I thought the book was clever, observant and something that will stick with me for a long time. I would highly recommend that you read this book, even if it’s not your usual genre of reading and I look forward to more Emily St.John Mandel books.

by Lauren Oliver
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.58

3.0 out of 5 stars Not her best work, 19 Mar. 2015
This review is from: Panic (Paperback)
I spotted this book on the bookshelves at work, read the synopsis and thought it sounded good. Initially, I had no idea that it was a YA book but I soon remembered that I have read some of Lauren Oliver’s previous books, so I should have known.

The book centres around 4 teenagers and is told in multiple POVs. The teens live in a small town where nothing exciting ever happens, other than the annual ‘Panic’ competition - and the prize of more than $50,000, has all the students vying for it. Each character has their own reasons for wanting to win Panic and the prize money but, for the story’s main character Heather, it's an escape from her deadbeat mother and a chance to help herself and her younger sister get a better life. Heather is determined to do whatever it takes to secure the prize. The other more minor characters are Nat, Heathers best friend and Dodge and Bishop, the male influencers in the story. We follow the group through the various Panic challenges and we learn about the characters home lives and the group dynamic as the story moves on.

As I said before, I was really interested by the idea behind this story. I felt that the Panic game could have created a really great and gripping storyline but I felt that this book fell short of this and my expectations. I liked the characters and the writing style, it being a YA book made it really easy to read and follow the events, but the actual storyline seemed a bit weak. Some elements of the book (like the lack of police or parental knowledge of Panic and the predictive way that the boys were pining after the girls) were very obvious and I felt that the ending of the book was very predictable. The final challenge in Panic was very rushed, crammed into the last few pages and, actually, quite disappointing.

I felt like this book could have been so much more. It’s not a bad read, I was just left disappointed by the storyline and, as I have read other books by this author, I expected more.

The Rainmaker
The Rainmaker
by John Grisham
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

5.0 out of 5 stars My first (but not my last!) John Grisham, 16 Mar. 2015
This review is from: The Rainmaker (Paperback)
This is actually the first John Grisham book I have ever read (shock-horror!). Of course, I have heard of Grisham, I am familiar with some of his bigger works like Pelican Brief and I know that he is an extremely popular and successful author but I had never read any of his books. I stumbled across The Rain Maker on the bookshelf at work and I wanted something to read that I hadn’t read before and was a bit older. I have read a string of modern releases and I wanted a great story, just a few years old.

The story follows Rudy Baylor, who has just graduated law school and dreams of the day he'll make it as a high paid attorney at a big law firm. As we start the book we realised that Rudy has been lucky in the competitive Lawyer market, in that he has found a firm willing to take him on when he graduates, providing he passes the bar exam. However, disaster strikes and the firm he is about to join is taken over and he then faces unemployment and a huge amount of student debt to deal with.

In his final semester of law school, Rudy is required to provide free legal advice to a group of senior citizens, and although this is something that he really isn’t interested in, it is there that he meets his first ‘clients’, Dot and Buddy Black. Their son, Donny Ray, is dying of leukemia, and their insurance company has refused to pay for his medical treatments, a bone marrow transplant, when they should have done. Actually, it transpires that Donny Ray could have been saved if he had the money for the surgery. Rudy realises that the Blacks really have been shockingly mistreated by the huge company, and that he just may have stumbled upon one of the largest insurance frauds anyone's ever seen , and one of the most lucrative and important cases in the history of civil litigation as more and more interest is taken in the case and the outcome. Rudy sets up his own firm and builds his case against the insurance company.

The story is told in the first person, and I gather that this is unusual for Grisham’s novels. I feel like it worked well and allowed us to be truly close to Rudy. I loved all the characters, even the ‘badies’ and I felt that Grisham portrayed the characters and the storyline very well. I particularly liked the ending of the book as it wasn’t quite as predictable as I was worried it would be. I really enjoyed this book and it ticked all the boxes as to the type of read I was hoping for at the time. I loved that Rudy had to use a public phone when he didn’t want to use the office one. This book was written before we all had mobile phones!

This is a really great courtroom read with funny, tender and heartbreaking moments. It has an excellent storyline and loveabe characters written in a good easy-to-follow style. I read this book in no time and I will definitely be looking out for another Grisham book.

The Bone Clocks
The Bone Clocks
by David Mitchell
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £10.00

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not his best work, 4 Mar. 2015
This review is from: The Bone Clocks (Hardcover)
Like many others, my discovery of this author started with Cloud Atlas. I enjoyed Cloud Atlas and had been hearing great things about his latest book The Bone Clocks, so I decided to grab a copy.

The book starts brilliantly; in fact the first half of the book is great. The main character is Holly and we follow her throughout her life, weaving into different characters that have an impact on her. Each section of the book focusses on a different character but Holly is always the central link. The other characters all have a relationship with Holly and I enjoyed seeing what the relationship was like from each perspective. I really liked the way that the book was written and I kept waiting to see where Holly would appear in each new chapter. Each section of the book reads like a short story and the book spans many, many years and goes way into the future where the world is not doing so well.

The topics covered in the book are vast - mortality, war, corruption & resources, and there is a high level of detail in the characters and the themes. The characters in the story are from all backgrounds of life, there are rich, precise, complicated and simple characters. We are taken over time and space to pull all the stories together.

As I said before, I loved the first half of the book but, unfortunately for me, that was where the enjoyment stopped. I found that the stories became ever more complicated and far-fetched (even for a sci-fi novel) and the most disappointing part of it was that I found myself no longer caring about Holly. I got so disillusioned with the book that I struggled to finish and wanted to give up but I kept hoping that it would return to the glory of the first few chapters, and the last section of the book does get a bit better again.

I really felt as if the book was split into 2 halves, so it’s difficult for me to review it. I would give the first have 5 stars and the second half 1 star, so I guess I’ll go for 3 stars. I think if you’re a huge David Mitchell fan, you’ll like this book, but if you’re not sure about his writing, you can give this one a miss.

The Bees
The Bees
Price: £4.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant, enjoyable read, 24 Feb. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Bees (Kindle Edition)
I first heard about this book through a book-based podcast that I listen to and I immediately wanted to read it. I love bees and find them very fascinating and one of the things I loved best about Sue Monk Kidd’s ‘The Secret Life of Bees’ was that each chapter started with a small fact about bees. I had high expectations with this book (which is always dangerous) but it did not disappoint.

Our main character is Flora 717, a worker bee who manages to transcend the role that she was born into. We follow Flora from her birth and learn of her very busy life. The book tells us a lot about the fascinating processes of bee life. We learn about the scent world in which they operate, the instructions of the hive which they absorb through the vibrations of the floor tiles, the sharing of information between the bees, which they do through their antennae and the whole social/caste ranking of the structure of the hive and how important this is for survival.

As other reviewers have said, this book covers many issues and real life situations. We learn how the bees live with their required obedience and submission to a greater good, about each bee’s duty and role, their pleasure and ambition, about motherhood and freedom, about society and nature and how our own cultural responses to such questions originate. The author also touches on the human impact to the bees and other dangers that threaten their world.

I was hooked as soon as I started the book. I loved learning about bees in general but also about Flora and all the challenges that she had to overcome. I think that this could easily have slipped into a more childish book but the author kept it harsh and real. I had no idea how the males were treated by the female bees and also the real life of a queen that really doesn’t sound all that fun! There are some amusing parts to the story and some real heart-wrenching moments. I loved Flora and was really behind her on her journey.

I think that you really need to enjoy this book for what it is, just start with an open mind and follow the journey. The book is very quick and easy to read and I would love to see a film version of this one day but, in the meantime, I look forward to more work by this author.

The Narrow Road to the Deep North
The Narrow Road to the Deep North
Price: £4.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I love all different genres and read nearly everything but reading ..., 12 Feb. 2015
Quick disclaimer: this is not a book that I would have ordinarily picked up, let alone read. I love all different genres and read nearly everything but reading the blurb on the back of the book would be enough for me to give it a miss. I only read this book because of the whole Booker prize thing and it’s written by an Australian and I’m always happy to find a new local author so I thought I’d give it a try and I a bit glad that I did.

I guess people know the basic storyline by now, the main character is Dorrigo Evans and he is a war hero. He survive the Burma Railway creation and inspired many of his fellow POWs as they continued to battle for survival as they constructed The Line. The book is split into 3 main sections, before the war, during the war and after the war, with the bulk of the story given to the war times.

We follow Dorrigo as he trains as a doctor and enlists in the Army. We learn about his life and what happens to him when he captured by the Japanese and finds himself in a slave labour camp. The author fully exposes us to the absolute horror of the condition of the camp and the troop’s treatment at the hands of the Japanese and Korean guards whilst building the impossible railway line.

As the story goes on, we see it from various characters viewpoints and this gives us a good insight into the characters and types of people that these men are. It also shows us how war changes people and can influence the rest of someone’s life and how they then interact with their families and children.

I learnt a lot about the war, the people and the conditions whilst reading this book. At first, I found the skipping around from different times and different people to be confusing and this made the first part of the book slow-going and slightly hard work for me but it was worth persevering. This book took me longer than normal to read but I didn’t want to rush it. The descriptions of the situations and people feel so real, you can almost smell and feel the scenes as they unfold, not just during the war times but also when some characters are fleeing from a fire later in the book.

As I said before, this would not have been a book I would have chosen ordinarily, but I am really pleased that I was exposed to it. It was a challenging read for me and one that will stay with me for a long time afterwards. Give it a try if it’s not your usual type of book, it’s a good strong read, well written and brutal.

The Miniaturist
The Miniaturist
Price: £1.99

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as I had hoped, 2 Feb. 2015
This review is from: The Miniaturist (Kindle Edition)
Like many others I was keen to read this book after hearing all the hype and good reviews around it and both the front cover and the synopsis were attractive and interesting to me so I got a copy.

The story is set in the merchant class of late 17th century Amsterdam and follows Petronella (Nella), who has been married off at the age of 18 to a man more than twice her age (Johannes) who she doesn’t know and who barely speaks to her. We learn of Nella’s new family, her spinster sister-in-law Marin who rules the house, the orphan maid Cornelia and the African servant, Otto. The household is a strange one. To help Nella settle into the household, Johannes buys her a miniature replica of their house and as Nella engages a ‘miniaturist’ to create elements for the new house, strange things start to happen.

After an initial slow period, I started to enjoy the book. I quite liked Nella and all the characters and I really enjoyed Johannes character and was interested in his storyline and how this was played out and dealt with in Amsterdam during this time. I was left a little disappointed with how little the miniaturist appeared in the book and the whole situation with the replica house seemed more like a sub-plot to me, whereas I thought it would be the main focus.

I felt that the writing was strong and the characters were relatable. The book touches on racism, sexuality, class divisions, mystical superstitions and more during the story. I did enjoy the book but I didn’t love it. I would read more work by this author but this was just not as good as I had hoped.

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