Profile for Susana J G > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by Susana J G
Top Reviewer Ranking: 129,949
Helpful Votes: 53

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
Susana J G "ladyoracle" (Espana)

Show:  
Page: 1 | 2
pixel
The Luminaries
The Luminaries
by Eleanor Catton
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £7.00

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A mediocre mass of pages, 25 Mar 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Luminaries (Hardcover)
I HAVE read some of the other reviews and find I agree with most of them in that this book is rather disappointing and most certainly did not deserve to win the Booker.
I must admit that the writing was beautiful and conveyed the ERA perfectly; although as an expatriate New Zealander myself I don't think it particularly transmitted the essence of New Zealand at any time in history.
Unlike many though I did not find the amount of characters overwhelming; I found them quite interesting although the inconsistency of their actions has more to do with the author trying to tie the story together than with how the characters would actually behave.
The reader is led through most of this novel by the nose expecting to be rewarded with a real ending to a mediocre mystery, but instead we are left sitting, flicking through the pages, convinced we have missed something important. But in the end the only thing missing is a real mystery.
I must defend the author against one criticism however: one reviewer mentioned the "token Maori"; this person obviously is not aware that Maoris were extremely rare in the South Island - and still there are not that many to be found in the south. My mother came from Christchurch and had not seen a Maori until she went to live in Auckland at the age of 21, so I would imagine almost a century earlier it would have been no different in that respect.
Other than that I don't think the author could or should be defended for having wasted so many readers precious hours with this very mediocre novel.


Pigeon English
Pigeon English
by Stephen Kelman
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.59

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sensitive narrative, 23 Sep 2013
This review is from: Pigeon English (Paperback)
I could just say "A BRILLIANT BOOK" and leave it at that but these reviews must be at least 20 words long. It is the story of a young boy recently (two months) arrived in England from Ghana with his mother and sister, living in a flat on a high-rise estate, and the narrative is as spoken by this boy. It is wonderfully done; how the author has managed to get every nuance, every defect of grammar or speech, is amazing. The readers feels as though she is listening to this boy tell the story of his life and the tragic murder of a schoolfriend.
Everything, from the boy's relationship with the pigeons that come to his balcony(not forgetting the pigeon's own narrative) to how he deals with the murder, to how he believes all the 'rules' that are told to him, is written with a delicate and sensitive hand. I am looking forward to Kelman's next book.
I do have to say, as a footnote, that I read the review by 'Simon Savidge Reads' and found myself amazed. Did this person read the same book as I? I can't believe he did, or if so, he seems to have missed every nuance, as well as most sentences. The characters were well drawn; just because Kelman saw fit to not round out every single personality in the book does not detract from the writing; it is just his style and, I believe, a brilliant style. Remember, he has written it from the boy's point of view and as such we would not believe the boy if he suddenly decided to contemplate the character of his mother or sister or even those of his best friends any more than he has.
Do yourself a favour and read this book, you won't regret it.


The Siege
The Siege
by Helen Dunmore
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

5.0 out of 5 stars Every word convinces, 23 Sep 2013
This review is from: The Siege (Paperback)
I first read this book in 2007, then re-read it two years later, and am just about to read it again. Yes, it is that good. I like Dunmore's books as a rule, but this one gripped me like no other. It is, at its most basic, a tale of a family struggling to survive during the 1941 siege of Leningrad. I have read non-fiction works about this topic and have enjoyed them but none affected me as deeply as this. It always helps to have a personal slant on a tragic event, and Dunmore has done this brilliantly. The boiling of the boot leather for soup has stayed with me since the first reading, and is one of the book's anecdotes I most frequently retell.
It convinces from the first word to the last: a simple story of survival against terrific odds. Compelling.


We Need To Talk About Kevin (Serpent's Tail Classics)
We Need To Talk About Kevin (Serpent's Tail Classics)
by Lionel Shriver
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.59

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shocking and wonderful, 14 Aug 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
LIKE most who have read this book I found it a compelling read. Unlike some however, I find nothing at all wrong with either the subject matter or the way in which Shriver has tackled it.
The story is particularly relevant these days with so many tragic school shootings occurring in the United States; too little do people delve into the real cause behind these killings, instead trotting out the usual "psychopaths", "abuse at home","bullied at school" and so on, without looking too hard at the perpetrators.
Here we have a mother asking herself if she is to blame because she never really cared for her son. I believe she did all she could given that her son appeared to be psychotic from day one almost. I found myself identifying with Eva, the mother, as I too never wanted children. Unlike the character however, I did not find myself in the position where I felt obliged to have a child for my partner. Never a good idea, which I think is proved only too well here. But Eva could have been a loving mother to Kevin, if he had let her, as is proven when she gives birth to her second child, Celia. She doesn't bond with her only because she is a girl, but because from the very beginning the child lets her in.
People have criticised Lionel Shriver for having the audacity to tackle such subject matter while being childfree. I had no idea she did not have children, but as a childfree woman myself I can state uncategorically that we tend to look at children a lot more objectively than do mothers. (And I'm sure many will not agree with me on this.) Mothers always look at the deeds of children with their own offspring in mind, whether it's "thank goodness mine don't do that" or "I hope mine aren't doing that" or "I wonder if mine will be like that when they're older" or "mine would never do that" and a thousand more phrases that run through their minds, so of course they are subjective. If this were a different subject matter they would be crying out for an objective person to study the issue at hand. I think Lionel Shriver has achieved probably more than she set out to do, and done it with such deft and delicate writing.
The issue of a mother's love for her child, or the lack of it, must be terrifying for anyone who has ever given birth; here we at last have an author who acknowledges this fear and takes it all the way to a certain conclusion. She should be congratulated for that alone. The book she has written forces the reader to think and to perhaps question many assumptions held and she has written it with a voice that we can question, agree with, identify with, loathe, and love. Surely any work that forces all those sentiments to the surface must be worth reading. This one certainly is.


Bring Up the Bodies
Bring Up the Bodies
by Hilary Mantel
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.85

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars She holds us close, 14 Aug 2013
This review is from: Bring Up the Bodies (Paperback)
I ENJOYED this second novel in the Cromwell trilogy written by Hilary Mantel very much. When I read Wolf Hall I was not aware that there would be a second book (let alone a third which I eagerly await) and I could have left the tale of Cromwell there; but to have Mantel take us even deeper into Cromwell's court is an unexpected treat. (And I say Cromwell's court rather than Henry's court, deliberately.)
Many write historical novels nowadays (or faction as some call it) and they do it well, but to my mind Ms Mantel gives both Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies a gravitas lacking in most works of this genre. I particularly enjoyed her portrayal of Anne Boleyn who I found at times irritating and placid, spiteful and generous, arrogant and insecure; in short a woman of contradictions. Beautifully drawn by Ms Mantel.
This is a well-known and often told tale and yet here it is brought to us with such a fresh and vibrant voice that, although we know the fates about to befall the major players, we find ourselves gasping, holding our breath as these unravel before us. This book holds the reader close; we do not wish to let it go, and when we have to we are filled with regret and a longing to begin again.


Half Life
Half Life
by Roopa Farooki
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars Addictive reading, 14 Aug 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Half Life (Paperback)
LIKE Roopa Farooki's other books this is an excellent read.
Unlike some other reviewers here I found I liked the main character, Aruna, and was with her most of the way; she leaves her husband on the first page of the book and it is in flashbacks that we see their marriage, a relationship which I found uncomfortable, and hoped all the way through the book that she wouldn't return to her husband. I won't spoil it by telling you the ending, which some found unsatisfying but which I personally, enjoyed. I don't like my stories all tied up in a pretty bow.
The three main characters in this novel are all extremely well drawn, as is the fourth, the voice of Jazz's father, and the reader will find themselves caring about the relationship between father and son, which is a complicated one.
I find there is not a lot to be said without telling the story so I will end by saying this is a compelling story about love and friendship, written with a delicate hand.


A Long Way Gone: The True Story of a Child Soldier
A Long Way Gone: The True Story of a Child Soldier
by Ishmael Beah
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

5.0 out of 5 stars We should all read this, 14 Aug 2013
Firstly, I would like to say that I don't agree with another review here by 'Jaybird' that the author deliberately chose to tell his story using the voice of a 12-year-old, not at all. He wrote from the heart and tried to write the events as he remembered them. As most of these took place between the ages of 11 and 16 it is appropriate that the voice we hear is that of a child. Not for one minute do I think, as 'Jaybird' does, that Ishmael Beah coldly decided to write like this in order to attract and hold readers. I feel this book is one hundred per cent genuine; written from the heart with no thought as to what will make the book more popular.
Now, the book itself. I was almost afraid to begin reading it as I thought it would be incredibly upsetting. And it was of course, but in a different way to what I imagined. I found I was upset that this happened (and is still happening to children in different ways throughout the world) but more than anything I was angry. Angry with a society which allows such things to occur. Here we are, in a world where you can hear or read the news almost as it is happening; where countries invade other countries if they don't agree with their politics (especially if they have oil); where we send aid daily to less fortunate countries; where we have hundreds of shelters in most western civilisations for animals - to protect them from those who would wish to do them harm; and yet we do nothing to help children who are being forced into adulthood years before their time.
I've strayed off topic yet again (but this book will make you do that) so I shall try and stay with the story. It is a powerful story, this loss of childhood and family, and the author does it justice in the way in which he tells it. He does not dwell unnecessarily on the violence; he tells it how it happened and in a voice that we can almost hear. He brings up the subject of storytelling more than once in this book, and that is how it was for me: I felt as though I was being told this story in one sitting. I am glad he didn't dedicate too many pages to his time in the army, because we get the idea of how truly awful it was without having the chance to become desensitized to it. He tells us of his rehabilitation as it happened without any editorial nonsense about when he found himself beginning to relate to other people again; one minute he is lashing out at everybody and then pages on he is more sullen than anything and then he is talking to adults... and so on.
I think it is a book that needs to be read a second time immediately after the first. The reader needs to hear again about Ismael's childhood once they have the knowledge of what he went through afterwards.
It really is wonderfully done and I am glad I had the opportunity to hear this story; I only regret that all the boys were not able to be helped as Ismael was.
This is a powerful book and my one hope would be that everybody in the western world read this.


The Book of Negroes
The Book of Negroes
by Lawrence Hill
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.59

5.0 out of 5 stars What an education!, 12 Aug 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Book of Negroes (Paperback)
THIS book really lived up to its reputation for me. I loved it and could not put it down. I read it in two sittings and devoured every single word.
The reader knows, by reading the jacket, what this book is about, and it does not disappoint.
While it gives a fictional account of one woman's survival as a slave, from her home in Africa as a child, through America, back to Africa and then to England, it makes it easy for the reader to imagine the lives of the real slaves and what they had to endure. Not just the physical brutality but the emotional and mental torment inflicted upon these people who are first stolen from their homes by their own race, and then kept enslaved by white masters from a country and culture totally alien to their own. To keep them 'in their place' they are often separated from husbands and other family members (if they have been able to stay with them thus far), but the worst act by far of these slave owners is the removal of children from their mothers. How many adults are there in the world today whose grandmother or great-grandmother had her baby wrenched away from her. The tragedy has reached down through generation after generation.
Like me, you may think you know a lot about this subject, but I still found a couple of things to surprise me, most especially the role of the British in the so-called 'repatriation' of thousands of slaves. It's a part of British history that deserves to be taught in schools.
Very well written. I give it the highest recommendation.


Americanah
Americanah
by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £15.17

10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not Adichie's best, 12 Aug 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Americanah (Hardcover)
I LOVED Half Of A Yellow Sun and Purple Hibiscus so was really looking forward to this latest novel by Adichie, but was disappointed.
While it was an entertaining enough book, it wasn't at all like her previous work which, in Yellow Sun, took us into the short history of Biafra and the different people involved in its story, or Purple Hibiscus which showed how a fairly typical wealthy Nigerian family was influenced by Western religion. Both of these books were at times both heart-rending and exhilarating and at all times unputdownable, but Americanah was never any of these.
It is basically a very predictable love story set in America and Nigeria with a bit of Britain thrown in, but at no time does it have any impact on the reader. It's not even necessary to finish it because, as stated, it is predictable; the reader knows exactly what is going to happen in each relationship.
Adichie can write so much better than this.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 28, 2013 8:44 PM GMT


Apple iPhone 4 16GB SIM-Free - Black
Apple iPhone 4 16GB SIM-Free - Black

5.0 out of 5 stars Flawless, 7 Aug 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Like many I was wary about ordering an iPhone, especially a second-hand one, from a trader via Amazon, and carefully read all the reviews first. Finally, what convinced me that I would be alright is that Major Deal (who I bought it from) had a very good return service so I knew if it wasn't good enough I could return it. It was under 200 pounds, arrived earlier than stated, and is in excellent condition. Admittedly I have only had it for a week so if there are any flaws in the offing I obviously don't know about them, but the guarantee lasts two months so I have time to return it if needed. As it was described only as 'Good' I expected it to look second-hand but no, it looks brand new. Not one scratch or mark. Am very, very pleased with it and would recommend Major Deal to anybody wanting to purchase an item like this. I have wanted an iPhone for a while but don't want a contract and could never afford a new one. This is the perfect solution. I really don't understand why anybody buys new if they can get a deal like this!


Page: 1 | 2