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RachelWalker "RachelW" (England)
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Dark Road: A play
Dark Road: A play
by Ian Rankin
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £9.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Dark Road - Ian Rankin & Mark Thompson, 22 Feb. 2015
This review is from: Dark Road: A play (Hardcover)
I've only read a couple of plays, so I'm not very conversant with what makes a "good" play script (and I've probably seen even fewer than I've read!) however this was a very enjoyable experience.

I enjoy new mediums, new things, new experiences. Obviously some people don't, some people prefer only what they already know they like - this is clearly a very different kettle of fish to his usual Rebus novels, and anyone who is dogmatically rigid in their appreciations of things will patently not enjoy this. However, anyone with a bit of open-mindedness to them should give this a fair chance, and hopefully they will find it enjoyable. It has a good story, tension, twists, and good dialogue. I'd like to see it performed live.

And, to everyone who bought this not eve realising it was a play (despite it being stated on the cover and in the description)... how dumb.


Great Expectations (Vintage Classics)
Great Expectations (Vintage Classics)
by Charles Dickens
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Great Expectations - Charles Dickens, 22 Feb. 2015
Really, I'm a little astounded. I read this with an increasing sense of surreal disbelief - THIS is regarded as a classic? Why?? What of beauty is there in it, what suspense or excitement? What lessons does it tell of life? What profound illuminations does it bring to the human condition? None, as far as I can tell. The book began well, with an atmospheric scene among the marshes - but there the excitement ended. For the next 250 pages at least, which was all I could be bothered to read. I really truly do not get the reverence in which this book is held. There are some colourful characters and scenes but one thing simply follows another in a "so what?" kind of way that none of it is particularly exciting. There is no suspense, excitement, nothing that drives the plot forward. One event simply follows another. The moments of excitement that there are are quickly dispatched with (Mrs Joe's assualt, e.g.). In a novel (particularly one of this length), there surely always has to be something at stake, for the reader to want to read on. As far as I can tell, there is nothing at stake here. None of the characters seem to care about their fates, so why should I. The thing at stake doesn't have to be a great deal, it can be the littlest of things. But here I could locate nothing. I really did have great expectations for this, but they proved to be unfounded.

Maybe it's me. Wilkie Collins is a hundred times better, on this showing. Consider me mystified.


Dead Simple (Roy Grace)
Dead Simple (Roy Grace)
by Peter James
Edition: Paperback
Price: £4.00

3.0 out of 5 stars Dead Simple - Peter James, 22 Feb. 2015
Where do I start. This book has the most completely ludicrous plot I've come across for some time. And I read a lot of books. You just sort of have to go with it and suspend disbelief. However, it's relatively engaging and I managed to read it all the way through (if not very attentively). That is, despite the fact that the detective reads the daily mail, the writing is rife with a latent misogny, and the final pages hinge upon the successful intervention of a psychic! As far as I'm concerned, the final chapter should have been expunged entirely - it comes close to bringing the whole book into complete disrepute (which wouldn't have been hard to start with).

The reason I give it three stars is because, bizarrely, it was at least fun and entertaining. It's nowhere near the best example of it's genre, but it's probably a good holiday read. And it seems they may get better, from what I read here. Which is good because I foolishly bought four of them at once...


Happenstance
Happenstance
by Carol Shields
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Happenstance - Carol Shields, 8 Feb. 2015
This review is from: Happenstance (Paperback)
Shields is one of the unsung heroes of the novel, as far as I'm concerned. I am sad to see her books slowly slipping out of print.

She is a championer of the remarkable in the normal, she gives weight to life, to the mildly contented among us. This novel (or two novels) treads the same kind of lines. It's a novel about a marriage, about how everyday lives are as historic as a won/lost battle. It's knowing and beautiful. She knows men and women and their internal lives so very, very well. Indeed, she writes men better than any other female novelist I've read - the first novel here, and Larry's Party, are my favourites among her work, and I think this is in large part due to the quality of the way she illuminates male minds. Indeed, the second novel here did drag a bit (all that quilting!), but the masterly first part more than made up for that.

She was a great novelist.


An Advancement of Learning
An Advancement of Learning
by Reginald Hill
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

5.0 out of 5 stars An Advancement of Learning - Reginald Hill, 8 Feb. 2015
When I read the whole Dalziel and Pascoe series around 13 years ago, I remember this one being a firm favourite. I've decided to re-read the series in order, and I'm no less impressed with this the second time around. Dalziel and Pascoe and themselves not as developed as they come to be, but Hill's writing is wonderful, and the plot this time around jolts around in a pleasingly puzzling fashion. There are plenty of incident, plenty of bodies, plenty of suspects, plenty of conflicts, and it all sails along beautifully because Hill's [clever] writing is such a pleasure to read. Franny Roote returns later in the series as somewhat of a nemesis, but this is his strongest entry, in which he exudes pleasant menace and charisma. Violence and misdirection are at play throughout. The only failing is that the plot could have been more fully developed.


The Convent
The Convent
by Panos Karnezis
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

5.0 out of 5 stars The Convent - Panos Karnezis, 1 Feb. 2015
This review is from: The Convent (Paperback)
This is a very, very impressive little book. It is beautiful and very moving and slightly tragic. It's a book about good and evil and sin and duty and religious duty and human moral duty. Everyone's motives, misguided or not, are understandable, and they twine together to what is often described as an "inexorable" conclusion. This is a sharp, feeling piece - very much worth a read. The best of Karnes' works I've read so far.


The Riddle of the Third Mile (Inspector Morse)
The Riddle of the Third Mile (Inspector Morse)
by Colin Dexter
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

5.0 out of 5 stars The Riddle of the Third Mile - Colin Dexter, 19 Jan. 2015
I'm slowly reading my way back through the Morse novels I remember being particularly fond of, and got quite a little surprise with this one. This one's a gem - a fast-moving, mysterious, indulgently labyrinthine beast of a detective novel, that has the perfect mix of convoluted-ness and explicability. Occasionally Dexter takes his plots a bit far and you need to sit down with a pen and paper to wrestle them into sense in your brain, but this is one where you satisfactorily emerge into the light without too much effort, and a few wonderful strokes of Dexter's telling pen. Morse is wonderful here, the plotting is incredibly devious, and the whole thing incredibly satisfying. The best one I've returned to so far.


Mary (Penguin Modern Classics)
Mary (Penguin Modern Classics)
by Vladimir Nabokov
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.20

5.0 out of 5 stars Mary - Vladimir Nabokov, 19 Jan. 2015
This is a wonderful little novel from Nabokov. He seems to have distinct styles, some of which I vastly prefer - I don't much care for his attempts at being Kafkaesque, e.g. Despair and Invitation to a Beheading, he should leave that to Kafka, but I greatly admire the majority of his other stuff. This is a great little introduction, and his first novel. It's short, can be read in an hour or two, is wonderfully written (evocative and moving) and rather the most "realistic" of his novels that I've read. It's funny, it's bitter, it's clever, it's sly, it's got a strange heart beating in it somewhere. Very good indeed.


Augustus: A Novel
Augustus: A Novel
by John Williams
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.19

5.0 out of 5 stars Augustus - John Williams, 7 Dec. 2014
This review is from: Augustus: A Novel (Paperback)
John Williams is remarkable. To write novels as diverse as Stoner, Butcher's Crossing and Augustus, and to make each of them distinct, brilliant, and a perfect example of their type is an astonishing achievement.

Augustus is one of the best historical novels I've ever read. Told through letters and journals, it's rare to find a historical novel, particularly that deals with so remote a period, that so convincingly conveys the people and places and time to you. Williams applies his calm, precise, beautiful prose to the task of simply making Rome seem no further away than yesterday. There's no flashiness to it: no women wondering through the streets with amphoras on their heads. Williams accomplishes his feat of recreation through a crystal clear depiction of his historic characters and their relationships, rather necessarily than details of daily Roman life.

The novel's political wrangling is fascinating, and this is clearly very much a novel for today.

Reading this, I'm completely in awe of what Williams did over his career. Each novel is wrought perfectly (i'm somewhat ignoring Nothing But the Night...) and I wish he'd written more. However, the world should be very thankful that he did write what he did - these three novels are masterpieces.


The Gardener's Son
The Gardener's Son
by Cormac McCarthy
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Gardener's Son - Cormac McCarthy, 7 Dec. 2014
This review is from: The Gardener's Son (Paperback)
Brilliant. A concise, sharp, vicious piece of writing. In 80 pages there's revenge, misunderstanding, kindness, violence, a slice of madness...

I wasn't so keen on The Counsellor, but I LOVED The Sunset Limited. This one I love too. You can polish it off in an hour or so, and are as rewarded as if you'd been reading for hours. McCarthy conjures up atmosphere, tension and danger in whatever medium he writes in (this happens to be a screenplay).

I recommend it to any McCarthy fan.


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