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Laszlo Kovacs

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Living Dead Lovers
Living Dead Lovers
Price: £0.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Great book but not without flaws, 5 Jun. 2014
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Fans of Jonathan Dunne's first novel, “Balloon Animals,” didn't have long to wait for the follow-up to arrive in the form of “Living Dead Lovers.” The new book follows a similar path as the first one – quirky characters, laser-sharp wit and a steady supply of funny moments on every page – but this time the author went much farther, perhaps even too far. Why am I saying this? Let me elaborate.
While in general I found it downright impossible to wipe the smile from my face as I turned the pages, there were also moments, and more than a few, that I found genuinely disturbing. I am more than aware that this is meant to be dark comedy, and as such should be taken with a pinch of salt, but in my world no portrayal of prostitution can be funny, especially not when practised by a mother with a young daughter and a husband, both of whom are forced to witness her activities from front row seats. I kept telling myself to forget my sensitive side for a few hours and just enjoy the book for what it was but half the time I found it impossible because prostitution aside, the upbringing which Valentina suffered at the hands of her dysfunctional and quite simply insane (and I'm being polite) parents can only be described as criminal and abusive. You can accuse me of being oversensitive and of missing the point of this otherwise fine story entirely (and you would probably be right), but I can't help but be reminded of the fact that there are far too many children in this world who are at best terribly let down and neglected by their hopelessly inadequate and irresponsible parents, and at worst are purposely subjected to emotional, physical and even more horrendous forms of abuse only to end up as deeply scarred and dysfunctional adults themselves. The fate of Valentina in the novel perfectly illustrates this, and no amount of jokes and wit could distract me from this darker dimension of the story.

While I realise that these might seem relatively minor quibbles to some, and that perhaps a novel of this kind ought not to be taken so seriously, I stand by the truth and honesty of my observations. By all means, read this book and you will be guaranteed to have a few highly enjoyable hours, but if you're troubled by the issues I raised above, be prepared to have your patience tested.


Healing Visions: True Stories of Healing Through Divine Visions Essential First-aid for the Soul
Healing Visions: True Stories of Healing Through Divine Visions Essential First-aid for the Soul

5.0 out of 5 stars A Stepping Stone into Mystery, 25 May 2014
Nothing inspires me more than people who embrace change. People who listen to the calling of their hearts and find courage to take “the road less travelled”. What can be more challenging than conquering the fear of the unknown we instinctively feel at the prospect of change? But often, perhaps always, it is the only way to move forward and toward who we are meant to be.
Katherine Connon is one such person. She has left behind a secure professional career in social work in order to embrace what she calls her healing gift. Despite everything she has seen and experienced during her work with clients in Ireland, India, USA, Spain and elsewhere, she still calls herself a skeptic, and this level-headed, sober impartiality enables her to maintain a certain degree of detachment that I believe is not only beneficial but perhaps vitally important in her healing work.
This book chronicles Katherine's evolution from her beginnings in social work to where she is now, over two decades later, and also offers several case histories of her miraculous work with clients. All of these accounts have the potential to leave the reader gaping in wonder – or in disbelief. But should we dismiss the miraculous, the divine, just because it stretches our beliefs? Or should we at least consider the possibility that this world, and our lives within it, might be more mysterious, dare I say more wondrous, than our own self-imposed limitations allow us to see?
For me, this book has become another stepping stone to somewhere, to a place shrouded in mist and swallowed by distance. It's been a while since I decided that it's much too convenient – and dangerous – to live as slaves of our own fixed opinions and scoff at ideas that challenge our views and beliefs. It's much more difficult, but infinitely more rewarding, to explore and understand those ideas, and reject or accept them from a position of clarity and understanding rather than ignorance.
Katherine Connon's book has allowed me to take another step. Her wonderful book opens up vistas of sparkling beauty that fill the reader with hope, wonder and awe.


The Light Between Oceans
The Light Between Oceans
by M L Stedman
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.59

5.0 out of 5 stars A thing of heart-breaking beauty, 13 May 2014
Books talk to us in mysterious ways. They beckon to us from the moment we first come across them on a book shelf, they seem to whisper our name with the promise of a profound encounter. It is a moment of mutual recognition, a meeting of paths. Destiny.
That is what happened when I first discovered The Light Between Oceans on our shelves. I had the suspicion that the book's themes might appeal predominantly to female readers but I would have been a fool to let that deter me, and how right I was. This story does so many things of which only the best books are capable. The best books prompt us to look inward and reflect on the things that truly matter in life. They make us pause and wonder anew at the richness, the drama, the beauty and the tragedy, the sheer miracle of this life we are given for a few short years. For we are a forgetful race. We forget that life is a mystery, and that it's meant to be revered and held sacred even in the midst of hardship and pain. Good books bring some of that mystery and reverence back into our lives and rekindle the fire in our hearts.
The Light Between Oceans is such a book. It filled me with awe.


The Lovers: A Charlie Parker Thriller: 8
The Lovers: A Charlie Parker Thriller: 8
by John Connolly
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Crime writing at its most beautiful, 13 May 2014
John Connolly is an Irish author of considerable talent best known for his Charlie Parker novels, every one of which is a privilege to read. Venturing far beyond the traditional boundaries of crime and mystery novels, they are beautifully and carefully constructed offerings in which the gruesome and the macabre are counter-balanced by poetic reflections on the nature of evil, suffering and life itself. All shades of human emotions are represented in these books (though the darker ones undoubtedly dominate) and what emerges in each case is a novel of dark brilliance. All of John Connolly's novels are treasured gems of my personal library, and I would recommend them to anyone looking for books that encompass all the elements of thrillers and crime novels but also offer a deeper examination of the human soul.


Platform
Platform
by Michel Houellebecq
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

4.0 out of 5 stars The strangest love story I have ever Read, 13 May 2014
This review is from: Platform (Paperback)
This novel was my first glimpse into Houellebecq's world. In it he presents a vivid portrait of the moral decline that has taken hold in western civilization. His protagonist leads a bleak, meaningless existence utterly devoid of positive aspirations and even true feelings. We see the world through the eyes of this desensitized being and can't help but despair at what we see. And yet, there is a glimmer of hope as a final chance for happiness, and perhaps even redemption, emerges in the person of Valerie, a woman who ignites long-dead feelings in the heart of the curious anti-hero of this disturbing story.
At its core, this novel is a ruthless criticism of western civilization and its lack of morality, but it is also the strangest love story I have ever read. Come to think of it, it is different from almost anything I've ever read, especially in its fearless portrayal of loveless, sometimes even perverted, sexuality, which may cause some people to stay clear of this work. However, if one looks beyond the shocking images, one must realise that the author's aim isn't merely to shock. The greatest strength of this novel lies in its ability to make us think about the values we wish to cultivate and represent in our lives, while it also prompts us to consider the consequences even our smallest, seemingly innocent lapses in morality can have, and their erosive effect on our character.


H. P. Lovecraft Omnibus 1: At the Mountains of Madness and Other Novels of Terror
H. P. Lovecraft Omnibus 1: At the Mountains of Madness and Other Novels of Terror
by H. P. Lovecraft
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: £10.99

5.0 out of 5 stars The Master of the Macabre, 13 May 2014
My first encounter with Lovecraft's work took place in a small bookshop in Hungary when I was about sixteen. I had never heard of Howard Phillips Lovecraft, but one look at the contents of that short story collection was enough to assure me that I had stumbled upon something truly special. With titles like "Rats in the Walls", "The Whisperer in Darkness", "The Evil Clergyman", "The Nameless City", or "The Thing on the Doorstep", the book seemed to exhale a suffocating miasma of terrors encountered in dark crypts, hideous nightmares, and in the touch of ancient evil.

To this day I cannot think of an author whose work is capable of casting a darker spell on the mind than Lovecraft's. In his world, the macabre lurks beneath the surface, malicious things slither in the dark, luring, tempting man with the promise of forbidden knowledge. This is a world in which the truth of existence remains hidden from the eyes of man, and those seeking it are doomed to fail in their quest, or lose their minds at the sight of what lies beyond the veil.
Lovecraft died in 1937 and left behind a body of work that influenced many of today's best horror writers. And yet, I know of no author whose work comes close to the suffocating atmosphere of malevolence and sheer creepiness found in Lovecraft's tales.


Gandhi the Man
Gandhi the Man
by Eknath Easwaran
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gandhi's example still shines bright, 13 May 2014
This review is from: Gandhi the Man (Paperback)
Though I already own several books on Gandhi, as soon as the cover of this publication caught my eye, I knew it would end up on my bookshelf.
A closer look at the first pages reveals that it is a new edition of an older book originally published decades ago, written by a man who spent time in Gandhi's ashram in order to gain a personal insight into Gandhi's life and understand the source of his inner strength, discipline and morality.
Rather than just covering the events and historical aspects of Gandhi's life, the book, enriched with countless digitally enhanced full-page photographs, focuses on Gandhi's personal and spiritual journey as a man whose unfailing aspiration was to change himself and through this change inspire the world. More than half a century after his death, Gandhi's example still shines bright.


Mustaine: A Life in Metal
Mustaine: A Life in Metal
by Dave Mustaine
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

5.0 out of 5 stars It made me see Mustaine in a new light, 13 May 2014
Growing up in the 80's and early 90's would have been very different without rock music. Bands like Metallica and Megadeth (and let's not forget about Slayer and Anthrax and a whole lot of other bands) had just burst onto the scene and were beginning to make their impact on the lives of millions of young people all over the world. Their music was different from everything that had gone before. It was raw, aggressive and honest, a far cry from most of today's (and the last two decades') calculated and artificial offerings churned out by a profit-hungry music industry.

Reading Dave Mustaine's book is at the very least a trip down memory lane for those who lived through those magical times. Dave's life has been one great adventure with its more than fair share of troubles as he led Megadeth to ever-greater success, but he could not have become who he is today without experiencing everything that life has thrown in his path.

I found his book extremely well-written; once I started I didn't want to stop until I got to the very end. Certain episodes had me roaring with laughter until my tears flowed, for example the showdown between the kung-fu master (Dave) and the pig farmer.

Dave Mustaine has always had a reputation for being a difficult and troublesome person, but having read his book, and in particular the chapters on how he began to change his self-destructive ways some years ago, found religion and essentially transformed himself into a new, greater version of himself, I now see him in a new light and with all the respect a man of such drive, passion and dedication deserves.


Family Matters: 1
Family Matters: 1
by Rohinton Mistry
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.98

5.0 out of 5 stars A story of the human heart, 13 May 2014
This review is from: Family Matters: 1 (Paperback)
There was a point, about a dozen or so pages into the story, when I nearly gave up on this book. The writing was accomplished, witty, even profoundly beautiful at times, but I thought it might be one of those overly artistic books that express important truths about the human condition, but in which also nothing much happens. Despite this moment of doubt I persevered, not only because I like to think that every author deserves a fair chance but also because the book had come with the highest recommendation of a good colleague whose word I trust.
As I kept turning the pages and the story began to unfold before my eyes something magical happened: my initial doubt and lack of enthusiasm suddenly changed into exhilaration and a wild, raving hunger to see where the story would take me. Suddenly I found that the book resonated with me on so many levels, not in the least because the careful descriptions of the main character’s deteriorating condition and the sacrifices required of his loved ones in taking care of him reminded me of the painful experiences I myself had to go through when I lost my father.
All in all, a wonderful story, a beautiful, heart-rending exploration of how one might begin to come to terms with the pains and regrets of a life that’s gone by, and how the mistakes of our past affect the lives of those who come after us.


Our Happy Time
Our Happy Time
Price: £2.99

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars O' Reader, Who turn these pages, read with Reverence..., 5 May 2014
This review is from: Our Happy Time (Kindle Edition)
It may have been chance that placed this book in my way. Perhaps it was destiny. Either way, the day it appeared on my desk under mysterious circumstances in the bookshop where I work was a momentous one. The moment my fingers caressed the beautiful cover, my eyes inspected the blurb on the back and read the first mesmerizing page, I sensed that I had come across a work of strange power and relentless intensity.
I must admit I am at a loss when trying to find words to describe the spell this book cast on my senses in the days – far too few in number – I spent in its grasp and the sheer beauty that lies among its pages, waiting to be discovered and savoured by the unsuspecting reader. Its author, Gong Ji-Young, is a highly-acclaimed and influential South Korean novelist whose works have had a major impact not only on Korea's literary world but on Korean society in general, and if she were here, I would give her a big hug and a kiss on the cheek, and thank her for giving birth to the miracle that is “Our Happy Time.” Similar acknowledgement is due to Sora Kim-Russell for her excellent work on the translation. Her sentences are fluid, effortless, and always beautiful.
It's been weeks since I turned the last page of this book but the story still lingers in my mind. I catch myself thinking about it almost every day and recommend it to anyone who will listen. I suspect it is one of those rare books that will stay with me forever because I am unlikely to ever forget about this powerful story that wrought so many emotions from my heart and helped me focus my attention on some of the most important questions in life. Indeed, I am already planning to reread it and I know I will do so again and again over the years. I suspect I will get more and perhaps something different but equally powerful out of it every time.
Books like this affirm my belief that the written word is holy and books are sacred objects that nourish the soul just as food nourishes the body and deserve to be venerated with a fervour ordinarily reserved for the highest of mysteries.
The day “Our Happy Time” so mysteriously found its way to my desk in the bookshop I walked around and asked every staff member I could find. No one claimed to know who had left the book there, and now I wonder. I wonder if it was the work of human hands at all, or perhaps the design of a higher power that guides us ever onward, toward a deeper, richer experience of life.
“Our Happy Time” turns out to be nothing less than a burning bush on my path.


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