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Heather "star_reader" (Leeds, Yorkshire)
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The Cement Garden
The Cement Garden
by Ian McEwan
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Deeply disturbing... dark fiction, 16 Feb. 2007
This review is from: The Cement Garden (Paperback)
Although The Cement Garden was McEwan's first novel, i have only just got around to reading it and was definitely not disappointed. I have found with some other writers, who i have come to 'late' that going back to their earlier work has been a bit of a let down and that later works, where their style has been more perfected have been much more enjoyable and successful. However, i would not say this is the case with McEwan as i found The Cement Garden to be just as successful as some of his later novels.

This novel very much represents McEwan's style and choice of subject matter which he has addressed throughout his writing. The Cement Garden follows the lives of four children after their father, and shortly after, their mother pass away, leaving the siblings to fend for themselves. As their lives begin to disintegrate and the children become further removed from society, their are passages reminiscent of 'Lord of the Flies' which are both shocking and saddening. I do not, however, wish to give the impression that this is a sentimental novel. McEwan writes, as he does in all his fiction, with ease and an unflinching eye when describing death and more disturbingly abnormal sexual relationships.

While The Cement Garden is a very dark novel, it is also a story about adolescence and the awkwarness of growing up especially in an unconventional household as this one. I found his descriptions of the interaction between the siblings to be both honest and raw but fundamentally troubling.

I found this novel extremely disturbing, but McEwan is such an intelligent and unique writer that he seems to create narratives which we are compelled to read. If you have enjoyed other McEwan novels then do not hesitate to try this one but if you are new to this writer then The Cement Garden gives you a real sense of what to expect from him.

This is definitely a novel that will get you thinking and talking whether you like it or not- a sure marker of great fiction. There are descriptions that will stay with you long after you finish reading.


We Need To Talk About Kevin (Five Star Paperback)
We Need To Talk About Kevin (Five Star Paperback)
by Lionel Shriver
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 15 Feb. 2007
I found this book a little slow to begin with and really couldn't decide whether or not i liked it but once i got into it a bit more.. wow! By the end, i could not put it down.

I found it to be well written and has one of the most exciting and shocking twists that i have read for a long time. This book will really get you thinking and you will want to finish it just so you can talk about it with your friends.


Fingersmith
Fingersmith
by Sarah Waters
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Unputdownable!, 15 Feb. 2007
This review is from: Fingersmith (Paperback)
This book was recommended to me by a friend and initially i was reluctant to read it as period dramas aren't really my thing but once i started reading all my preconceptions faded away and i could not put it down.

The novel is so well written and has some fantastic twists in the plot which are really unexpected. It kind of leaves you breathless as you become so engrossed by the characters and desperately want to find out what is happening.

This is one of the most surprising and enjoyable books that i have read and im so glad i gave it a go!


Yes Man
Yes Man
by Danny Wallace
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.19

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it!, 14 Feb. 2007
This review is from: Yes Man (Paperback)
Follows a similar format to 'Join Me'. Equally funny, the best kind of book to read if you want some light relief... you are guaranteed to laugh out loud... Loved it!


Join Me: The True Story of a Man Who Started a Cult by Accident
Join Me: The True Story of a Man Who Started a Cult by Accident
by Danny Wallace
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it!, 14 Feb. 2007
Brilliant... hilarious... this book will make you laugh out loud no matter where you are.

Danny Wallace at his very best.


Old School
Old School
by Tobias Wolff
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable, 14 Feb. 2007
This review is from: Old School (Paperback)
I was drawn to this book after reading some excellent reviews and the fact that it has been described as "Dead Poets' Society meets Catcher in the Rye" i knew this was one i had to read.

Old School is set at a prestigious American school for boys during the 1960's and describes the rivalry which emerges among the classmates as they compete against one another to win literary regocnition for their writing and the chance to meet a celebrated writer. Only one writer visits the school each term and only one boy can win the competition to privately meet with the author. The sense of competition really escalates, however, when it is announced that the last writer to visit, during the final term before graduation will be Ernest Hemmingway.

I found the initial chapters of this book, while beautifully written, a little slow and the plot a little weak, however, once i reached the half way point things became a lot more interesting. The descriptions of the boys relationships with one another and the descriptions of their dorms as well as the touching relationships which emerge between them and certain teachers were reminiscent of 'Catcher in the Rye'.

For me the final chapters in which the narrator describes his early adult life, after leaving school are the most effective as the novel really comes into its own and has some lengthy but insightful character descriptions which can be quite moving.

I think this novel is really successful in capturing a certain time and place in recent history and is a great read for anyone who loves adolescent fiction, in a distinguished academic setting, with some interesting literary references... well worth a look!


Middlesex
Middlesex
by Jeffrey Eugenides
Edition: Paperback

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 12 Feb. 2007
This review is from: Middlesex (Paperback)
I came to this book with very high expectations having read and thourghly enjoyed The Virgin Suicides and found Middlesex to be just as good (although very different)This novel has epic scope and describes a family over three generations as the central character Callie approaches adolescence and comes to terms with the descovery that she is a hermaphrodite. I really loved this book, it has a great plot, really different from other adolescent novels that i have read and Eugenides approaches the complex subject matter with much sensitivity.

A fantastic book and an excellent writer, really leaves you wanting more... cant wait for his next offering.


The Great Gatsby (Penguin Popular Classics)
The Great Gatsby (Penguin Popular Classics)
by F Scott Fitzgerald
Edition: Paperback

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Glad i read it..., 12 Feb. 2007
Like many people i was aware of this books reputation before i read it and felt compelled to read it largely due to its status. Im really glad to have read it and found it really enjoyable. I thought it was well written, had great characters and really captured the jazz age, in the sense that i felt transported to that time and era and had i lived in that period, that is what it would have been like.

Gatsby is a great character, both funny and tragic. Whether or not this book lived up to its 'masterpiece' reputation im not sure but i think a second read will help me to decide this and look forward to reading it again some time in the future.

This novel is simply written, very short and can be easily read in one sitting but no less enjoyable for these reasons. If you want to know what all the fuss is about then dont hesitate to give it a go.


Small Island
Small Island
by Andrea Levy
Edition: Paperback

4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good read..., 12 Feb. 2007
This review is from: Small Island (Paperback)
After having this book recommended to me on several occasions i decided to give it a go and am glad i did.

It is well crafted and moves between the different narrative positions very smoothly.Overall a great little read, which builds gradually but will have you gripped by the ending.


The Secret River
The Secret River
by Kate Grenville
Edition: Paperback

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Surpising, 12 Feb. 2007
This review is from: The Secret River (Paperback)
I was given this book as a Christmas gift and from reading the synopsis was a little sceptical as it is not the type of story i would usually go for. However, i do think its important to read a range of different things so i gave it a go and was really suprised.

I found the story to be enjoyable and really warmed to the characters, desperately wanting them to succeed in the end. The writer does an excellent job in describing the tensions between the native and new settlers of Australia in this period. The prose is sensitive and calm, making the plot flow really well.

A good all round read, i think this would appeal to a wide ranging readership. Give it a go.


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