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K. Symes (UK)
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Les Miserables (Classics)
Les Miserables (Classics)
by Victor Hugo
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.69

5.0 out of 5 stars The best exploration of character I've ever read, 19 April 2014
The main reason I started reading this book was because I'd seen the stage production, and didn't feel I really understood why Javert killed himself. For the first 40 pages or so, I wondered if it was going to be a bit of a slog to get to the end, as it begins with a detailed study of the character of the bishop, who plays a tiny (though crucial) role in the stage musical. Then, however, it takes off, and becomes as much of a page-turner as any modern book I can think of. Hugo reveals a profound understanding of how someone's character is formed and shaped throughout their lives by circumstance, chance events and meetings as much as by innate temperament. Highly recommended.


The Red House
The Red House
by Mark Haddon
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Didn't get past the second page, 10 Nov 2013
This review is from: The Red House (Paperback)
For all I know, this could be a wonderful book. But I am never going to find out because I hated reading it so much I couldn't get past the second page. Why? Instead of speech marks, we have italics. The result is that it doesn't flow, and you're never sure who's speaking, or whether they're just thinking. Deeply disappointed as I'd been looking forward to a good read.


Dark Matter
Dark Matter
by Michelle Paver
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Very scary, 9 Mar 2013
This review is from: Dark Matter (Paperback)
This book ought to carry a warning that it is not to be read by anyone who has ever had sleep problems or a fear of the dark. I haven't really, and I don't believe in anything supernatural. And yet, Michelle Paver convinced me I did have something to worry about: by page 200, I was so terrified, I didn't know whether to finish the book. Even the sight of the outer cover from across the room unsettled me.

The story is set in the late 1930's and concerns an expedition by a group of young men to the Arctic. One of them gets isolated, and the bulk of the book is made up of his diary, penned during his weeks alone in the Polar night. The plot is a slow-burner, with just the right pace for small things to have maximum impact. The writing is excellent and highly readable.


The Casual Vacancy
The Casual Vacancy
by J. K. Rowling
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £16.00

6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Archers Meets Trainspotting, 6 Oct 2012
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This review is from: The Casual Vacancy (Hardcover)
Had this book been by an unknown author, I might have given up near the beginning, as the first 50 pages or so were a bit of a struggle for me. A lot of characters are introduced fairly quickly, and it's hard to remember who lives where. Also there are a few instances of ambiguous phrasing which the editor should have ironed out.

However, once you get past those introductory chapters, the story really takes off, and it becomes the kind of page-turner that keeps you awake long past your normal bedtime.

The plot flits from house to house to school, in soap opera style, so that the reader sees events in Pagford from many points of view. None of the characters are entirely appealing, all having their own selfish agenda and some also having bigoted, self-satisfied views. The situations that evolve are entirely believable. The capacity of normal people to delude themselves into thinking they are nicer than they are, is clearly exposed, but might have been more powerfully done via humour.

I did enjoy the book, but probably won't read it again


The Rescue Man
The Rescue Man
by Anthony Quinn
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant evocation of the 1940's, 21 Jun 2011
This review is from: The Rescue Man (Paperback)
Superb book.
I chose it completely at random from my library, having never heard of it nor its author. I have no interest in Liverpool or architecture (2 main themes), but that didn't matter at all. The writing is wonderful, with every sentence having an unexpected but well-chosen adjective or metaphor. The plot brings in eternal themes - attraction, fear, morality, beauty, integrity,friendship, death and the passage of time. The book paints an evocative picture of wartime Liverpool, and a convincing portrayal of the emotional strains of the times: the imminence of death, the power of attraction, set against a still strong sense of morality. The main character is realistically portrayed, believable and easy to identify with. All the characters and dialogue are believable in fact, and we fully understand what lies behind their actions given the extreme circumstances in which they find themselves.
Highly recommended!


Breaking Dawn Special Edition (Twilight Saga) (The Twilight Saga)
Breaking Dawn Special Edition (Twilight Saga) (The Twilight Saga)
by Stephenie Meyer
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £15.73

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Best of the series, 29 Nov 2009
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The fourth and final book in the Twilight series, this is by some margin the best. I personally did not notice the lapses in writing quality evident in the previous books, but then perhaps I was too caught up in the plot to notice. A riveting read, with several clever and unexpected twists. If you've read the first three, then you will undoubtedly be reading this last one anyway, whatever the reviewers say! Main downside is that when you've finished it, you'll look around you and think 'Oh no, back to reality'


Twilight: Twilight, Book 1 (Twilight Saga)
Twilight: Twilight, Book 1 (Twilight Saga)
by Stephenie Meyer
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.95

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Eternal Theme of Attraction and Danger, 11 Nov 2009
First, I really enjoyed the book, and it's a compelling read. The writing is not always that great, and in places, positively bad; but the appeal and fascination of the book lies in its study of the forces of attraction and fear. It presents us with Bella's predicament of being overwhelmed by an attraction which may be lethally dangerous - what could be more exciting?


Never Let Me Go
Never Let Me Go
by Kazuo Ishiguro
Edition: Paperback

56 of 61 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Thought Experiment?, 27 Sep 2009
This review is from: Never Let Me Go (Paperback)
This is the first book I've read by Ishiguro, and I was pleasantly surprised by his clear, plain style with none of the gimmicks of some modern authors. It is written in the first person, by a female narrator who slowly reveals, through a series of reminiscenses the predicament she and her friends are in. They have been brought into the world by cloning for spare part surgery, which takes place when they are young adults in a series of donations which inevitably results in their death.

This is the macabre core of the plot, and I found it quite nauseating. At the same time, as a thought experiment, it was intriguing to see how the characters responded as they discovered their fate,and this kept me reading. I found their behaviour unbelievably passive, and desperately wanted one of the characters to escape, or to even think of escaping.

An easy and quick read - but not exactly 'light'
Comment Comments (7) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 14, 2012 8:34 PM GMT


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