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Christopher Brown (UK)
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English Passengers
English Passengers
by Matthew Kneale
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Strong storylines, but a lot of characters, 10 Aug. 2012
This review is from: English Passengers (Paperback)
This excellent novel is high entertainment, with several strong storylines inevitably merging together as the book concludes.
Having several strong storylines is both the strength and weakness of the book. For one thing it means there are a lot of characters to remember and at times I lost track of who was who. Also there were a few occassions when it was frustrating to be moved away from a good tale and on to another new thread.
Overall I say its a 4 star, because on my scale 5 is reserved for the very best.


Life on the Color Line: The True Story of a White Boy Who Discovered He Was Black
Life on the Color Line: The True Story of a White Boy Who Discovered He Was Black
by Gregory Howard Williams
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.04

2.0 out of 5 stars in the end, I couldn't stand to read any more, 28 April 2012
If I wrote an autobio, no doubt I would also be tempted to make myself sound a little better than real life. Gregory goes several steps too far.
At first look this should be in interesting book. Philip Roth tells a fictional story of a man who changes from white to black, and a real life version has surely got potential.
At first I was put off by the short sentence style and the lack of any real description of any scene, so that it had something of a school essay feel to it. I struggled on and for a while in the middle of the book I engaged with Greg at his high school, until the author fell into temptation.
He was self professed as a non-sporty person up to the middle of the book, so when he tries out for the football team we don't expect much. Not only is he picked as quarterback, but also becomes the star of a fantastic team. He's never had much time for girls, but he decides to start out with the honey that every boy in school is crying themselves to sleep over. It was some relief when she turned him down, after some intial good response that made me think he was going to make out dating is this easy for him.
Then he tries out for the basketball team. Guess what. I put the book down.


The Rotters' Club
The Rotters' Club
by Jonathan Coe
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very enjoyable read - the cover is easily the weakest link, 17 Mar. 2012
This review is from: The Rotters' Club (Paperback)
I'm a firm believer that you can judge a book by its cover. Just picture a novel with a pink stiletto and a glass of champagne on the cover. I find the covers on most of the Coe stock to be quite offputting, and rather misleading as to the content, but enough of this.

The book itself is a joy to read, I recommend it thoroughly. As usual I don't like to give away anything of the plot, but there are other reviews if that's what you want.

The long stream of consciousness final chapter is quite excellent and provides smiles and tears for the reader, a rare treat indeed. I ordered my second Jonathan Coe as soon as I finnished this one.


The Sense of an Ending
The Sense of an Ending
by Julian Barnes
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £10.39

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A life from nothing, 12 Feb. 2012
This review is from: The Sense of an Ending (Hardcover)
While his central character has achieved very little in life, Julian Barnes is nevertheless able to build this delightful story around a childhood friend and a late life mystery. I'd urge anyone simply to read the book, rather than risk all the spoilers that lie in wait in the reviews.
I also find of some interest the remarkable vitriole in the one and two star reviews for a work of such sensitivity. Life is a rich tapestry indeed.


Regarding Ducks and Universes
Regarding Ducks and Universes
Price: £3.49

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great idea, average execution, 5 Feb. 2012
The idea for this book is pretty cute, and I can imagine many happy hours in a bar with friends kicking around all the things you could do with the core storyline. The experience of reading it doesn't live up to this promise though. One problem I had was that I never managed to come to terms with the central character supposedly being male. Maybe the opposite gender point of veiw was a bit too much to try in a first novel. When 'Felix' meets a glamourous film star, he notices her shoes and is jealous of her hair. A clue Neve, that ain't what men notice.


Just Kids
Just Kids
by Patti Smith
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.74

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The struggle of artists uncovered, 5 Feb. 2012
This review is from: Just Kids (Paperback)
Patti gives us an interesting insight into what it takes to truly live the life of an artist (both herself and Robert) forsaking almost everything else to create their own art with no knowledge of how the world will receive it.
On the minus side, I found her writing style to be rather lifeless, being mainly a slow and gently descriptive that failed to engage me for much of the work. Also, the constant mention of her encounters with other famous people of the day became rather tiresome and at times appeared like an attempt at the world name dropping record, sometimes as many as 5 per page. This could have been turned into a real virtue if she'd taken the time to give us a small insight into their lives.


Don't Tell Mum I Work on the Rigs: (She Thinks I'm a Piano Player in a Whorehouse)
Don't Tell Mum I Work on the Rigs: (She Thinks I'm a Piano Player in a Whorehouse)
by Paul Carter
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.19

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars If you're looking for a really simple account....., 19 July 2010
The author gives us the most simplistic possible account, if mildly entertaining, of life on the rigs. Virtually no imagination was employed by the writer, and equally little is called for from the reader.
The main virtue of this book is probably that its in such big print and with so few pages that its a very quick and easy read.


The New Confessions
The New Confessions
by William Boyd
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Slow to start up, wonderful overall, 13 Jun. 2010
This review is from: The New Confessions (Paperback)
It took as much as 100 pages for me to get properly involved with this story, and I was starting to think about giving up - which I hardly ever do. When the story starts to flourish it does so with depth and passion and overall is something of a work of art.
Its not the first time I've found it taking Mr Boyd a while to get the story set up (A good man in africa is another example) but its always been worth the effort in the long run.


Never Trust A Rabbit
Never Trust A Rabbit
by Jeremy Dyson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Takling short stories and succeeding, 13 Jun. 2010
This review is from: Never Trust A Rabbit (Paperback)
Short stories are a difficult medium, so often just one good idea but without any of the flesh to deliver a satisfying read.
I thought this was going to be another disappointing short story collection when I found the first two stories to be profoundly unsatisfying, but my concern was unfounded. There is some excellent and entertaining work contained within these pages...so no spoilers, just try it for yourself.


Carry Me Down
Carry Me Down
by Maria Hyland
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Lacks the drive to be real quality, 6 April 2010
This review is from: Carry Me Down (Paperback)
I'm not saying this isn't without merit, and I may even go as far as to say its worth a read, but I found the sparse style and single pace rather wearing. We have to wait all the way to chapter 33 out of 37 before the reader's efforts are finally rewarded with a brief lift in the pace, but it hardly felt like a fair deal.


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