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120 of 125 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Atmospheric and enjoyable story
This book was first brought to my attention by a member of the Kindlers Club book club. I doubt I would have read the book had it not been selected as the December read.

The book tells the stories of a host of characters in Kabul, Afghanistan. The link amongst them all is the coffeehouse of the title. This is definitely a book focusing on the lives of women...
Published on 5 Jan. 2013 by 100 Word Reviews

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35 of 38 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Easy reading
It was a nice easy read but I felt the characters lacked depth.

I am a fan of 'The Kite Runner' and 'Thousand Splendid Suns' and if you are expecting this book to be similary well set out and written you will be disappointed.
Published on 29 Nov. 2012 by suze


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120 of 125 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Atmospheric and enjoyable story, 5 Jan. 2013
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This review is from: The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul (Kindle Edition)
This book was first brought to my attention by a member of the Kindlers Club book club. I doubt I would have read the book had it not been selected as the December read.

The book tells the stories of a host of characters in Kabul, Afghanistan. The link amongst them all is the coffeehouse of the title. This is definitely a book focusing on the lives of women there, although there are several interesting male characters. I enjoyed reading about the different characters and wanted to see how their stories developed. I was largely satisfied by the plotlines for each of them, but not entirely so. The author intertwines the stories well but, for me, I found some plot developments too convenient and the odd character change a little too abrupt and unbelievable.

The ending will please readers who like everything resolved neatly, but it just didn't ring entirely true for me. I felt it ended leaving a sugary taste in my mouth - too sweet and schmaltzy and 'Hollywood' for my liking. The setting is Afghanistan, and while everything is not a happy ending (no spoilers here), we would surely expect some loose ends in reality.

I should stress that this didn't ruin my enjoyment of the book. I learnt a lot about Afghanistan and its culture. The writing was very atmospheric and I really felt the danger the Afghans must feel on a daily basis. What surprised me most about the book was that living in Afghanistan is not entirely the unpleasant experience you would expect. Of course it is unsafe, but there is beauty to be found in unexpected places and people there live with goals in life to change the place for the better. Some of the characters' efforts to change Afghanistan for the better were inspiring.

The book ends with snippets from the author's own life and experience, which is interesting, and some traditional Afghan recipes.

So, in summary, the book gave me a real flavour of a place and culture I had little knowledge of, and the characters I journeyed with were interesting and enjoyable. The only real let-down was the all too convenient execution of the plotlines which felt unrealistic.

3.5/5
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35 of 38 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Easy reading, 29 Nov. 2012
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This review is from: The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul (Kindle Edition)
It was a nice easy read but I felt the characters lacked depth.

I am a fan of 'The Kite Runner' and 'Thousand Splendid Suns' and if you are expecting this book to be similary well set out and written you will be disappointed.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The Worst, 30 Mar. 2014
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Started this book with high hopes, thinking of the Kite Runner. Apart from the first 30 pages or so, it is perhaps the worst written novel I've ever read. The author does not have a clue how to write, and thanks editors who clearly don't have a clue how to edit. Though perhaps all they could have done was to bin it, which it richly deserves. Finished it only because it was a novel for our Book Club. The characters are wooden and two dimensional, the plot unbelievable and trivialises a serious situation; and the happy ever after endings are frankly ludicrous.
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75 of 83 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 5 Dec. 2013
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This review is from: The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul (Kindle Edition)
To compare this with The Kite Runner or a Hundred Thousand Splendid Suns is like comparing Barbara Cartland with Shakespeare. I bought the book because I found those other 2 books moving and well written, this let down in all aspects. I found the characters one dimensional and the few good points of the book were lost in a schmaltzy overlay that didn't engage me.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A poor man's Khaled Hosseini, 25 Nov. 2013
Having read a number of fiction books about Afghanistan (A Thousand Splendid Suns being my fabourite) I was keen to read this book following five women in Kabul. However I came away disappointed ands frustrated with the book and the author.

The first mistake the author made was taking on the challenge of trying to write five believable, well-rounded characters each with interesting and individual stories in a book of less than 400 pages. The author has seriously over-estimated their skills as a writer in my opinion. I found two of the characters, Candace and Isabelle, astonishingly pointless as they added nothing to the plot. Their own storylines seemed under-developed and crude. Isabelle in particular seemed like a character 'taped-on' to the book and the mention of her rape and visit to the "Only Jew in Kabul" was obviously the author separately trying to give the character some legotimacy. Candace came across as deeply unlikeable and jaw-droppingly naive. It was obvious from the first page of her introduction that Wakil was only using her for money yet the author stretched out this thinner than crepe paper story till the end of the book.

I found myself only caring about the Afghan characters of the book, I would flick through the pages until the plot returned to their stories. It felt like the author had no faith in her Afghan characters so introduced the pointless European and American characters to appeal to a Western audience. If she had concentrated on only the afghan characters (including the Hazari coffee house worker who I felt could have been a much more central character wit more of a story line) the book would have been richer, deeper and more interesting.

The authors writing style was irritating, as she's an American I can almost forgive her for the inaccurate use of 'bloody hell' by the British character, but found the use of the term 'thick British accent' annoying. What the hell is a thick British accent? Geordie, Cockney, Scouse? Turns out it was Middle-Class Southern accent, the accent all British characters have in American film and TV. Also I lost count of the times the women touched each other's arms. Isabelle touched Candace's arm, Sunny touched Isabelle's arm etc etc. Bizarrely one of the women but the back of their hand on the others shoulder at one point (why?).

Overall I found this book in need of at least half a dozen rewrites and a removal of two characters at least to be classed as a good read.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Insight, 27 Oct. 2013
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This review is from: The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul (Kindle Edition)
The detailed stories of daily life in Kabul are illuminating and really bring to life the news we see and hear from Afghanistan. I loved the book.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A serious disappointment, 10 April 2014
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This is without doubt the worst book I have ever read. It is badly written, badly plotted, and the characters are at best one dimensional. For anybody who is tempted to buy it because they enjoyed the wonderful Kite Runner or The Mountains Echoed: don't.
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44 of 51 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Mills and Boon treatment, 8 Dec. 2013
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I had to read this book for my book club, otherwise I would have not read beyond the first paragraph. There is certainly some background knowledge, but both the good and the bad aspects of the Afghani situation lacked detail and were over-sentimentalised. Trite plot-lines, stereotyped characterisation and little beyond the coffee house itself is other than sketchy - I wanted to feel I knew Khabul better and I learned very little about it. The best thing about the novel is its pinpointing of the terrible attitude of the culture to women, but even that was somehow Disnified by the ending. The writing is really poor! - very simple and providing little except surface detail and some explicit repetitive character traits (little is left to the readers intelligence or interpretation). Finally shockingly prejudiced against the British, despite a nominally British character. I feel really cross at being accused of racism by an AMERICAN!!!! - (no sense at all of British, Danish etc troops in Afghanistan - the usual insular knee-jerk, American response - even when criticising their presence in the country.
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44 of 51 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointment, 5 July 2013
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I bought this book encouraged by numerous reviews comparing it to 'The Kite Runner' and 'Thousand Splendid Suns'. While those were written in a beautiful prose, smart and skilled, 'The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul' feels completely different. It's almost as if someone sat down one day and thought: "Hey, why don't I write a book today instead of watching romance TV". Sorry for being harsh but the story is not well thought through, not convincing and simply nothing like 'Thousand Spendid Suns'.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable read, 5 May 2014
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Mad Sez "Sarah" (Derbyshire, England) - See all my reviews
Plus points for this book are that it is fast paced and has some really interesting characters that you can connect to. The culture of Afghanistan is fascinating, and this gives you an insight into the detail of what lies behind the news stories we see on TV. I like chick lit novels, which is what this is, therefore I liked how everything was tied together in the end and the strong theme of love in it.
Slightly more negatively I thought that the stories of the 5 women's lives were not developed enough meaning that when some major events happened towards the end they did not have the impact that they should have done. I also thought that there was less exploration of the women's relationship with each other than there could have been, particularly between Sunny, Candace and Isobel.
A thousand splendid suns and the kite runner are beautiful masterpieces that do not compare to this, however I still thoroughly enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone, particularly if you have never read a book about Afghanistan before.
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The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul
The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul by Deborah Rodriguez
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