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S. Shamma "Suad" (Abu Dhabi, UAE)

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by Robert Crumb
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.63

4.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful book, uninspiring character, 24 May 2015
This review is from: KAFKA (Paperback)
I have a confession to make...I've never read a Kafka book.

I know, it's shocking. So why am I even reading this graphic biography of the man? The main reason I picked this up is because of how beautiful it was. Robert Crumb and David Zane Mairowitz have done a fantastic job putting together a history of Kafka by giving us pages of beautifully illustrated material.

Of course I know who Franz Kafka is, and I've heard a lot about him. I know his books, I know what he's written, and I even know some of what his books talk about. However, I never realized how dark and twisted he actually was until I read this brief biography of him. His thoughts and feelings illustrated in pictures was a brilliant touch to this haunted man. I loved that we even got summaries of his famous works in the form of drawings as well.

I don't think I was drawn to Kafka very much as a person, although I did enjoy this book, but he left me feeling unmoved with him, his life and his death.

That being said, it did make me want to pick up one of his books and start reading them, for no other reason than the fact that he was a good writer.

by Milan Kundera
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.98

3.0 out of 5 stars Not memorable, 24 May 2015
This review is from: Immortality (Paperback)
I was taken a little off-guard with this one, and can't really decide how I feel about it. Divided into seven parts, it starts out normally enough and then became a little strange, throwing me off and confusing me. I didn't know if it was just me, but I couldn't understand what was happening or what Kundera was trying to do. There was no specific flow to the story, it was all over the place, jumping back and forth in time and between characters. At one point, it felt like a collection of short stories instead of one comprehensive story line.

Some parts I enjoyed reading, other parts I was completely indifferent to. I liked the parts that involved Agnes and her journey in life. I loved the twists at the end where you slowly peeled back layers of her character until you discovered the shocking series of events that took place in her life. I had absolutely no interest in Laura, her sister, or Laura's relationship with Bernard Bertnard. I also had no interest in Goethe and Bettina's bizarre relationship and correspondence and her creepy obsession with him. I loved, however, the interactions between Goethe and Hemingway in the afterlife. That being said, I don't know how any of that was relevant to Agnes's story.

And then, as if all of that wasn't confusing enough, we have parts that seemed almost autobiographical as we read sections with Kundera himself having conversations with Professor Avenarius as they discuss Agnes and Laura among other things.

All in all, it was a good read, confusing in its nature, but good. Not sure I would recommend it to anyone though, I've had more enlightening experiences with some of Kundera's other novels.

Stitches: A Memoir
Stitches: A Memoir
by David Small
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Great memoir, 10 May 2015
This review is from: Stitches: A Memoir (Paperback)
I was highly impressed with this book, way more than I thought I would be. When I bought it, it was on a whim. I had never heard of David Small, I don't know who he is or what he does. I was taken in by the cover, the fact that it was a memoir written in graphic novel style, and with a quick skim through it I knew I liked the artist's style and would enjoy the story.

This isn't a happy story, it's quite dark, and you can't help but think it must be fiction. This can't actually be true. This can't actually be what happened to David. But it was and it is, and this thought keeps resonating in your head as you read through his childhood and adolescence. The way he describes his family as silent, each expressing themselves silently in different ways was brilliant. When he gets to the point where his silence is not a matter of choice anymore, I thought wow. This book is a lot more than I bargained for. This is profound, and quite painful to tell you the truth.

You're sad and in pain and you want to protect this boy from his family who are hurting him, albeit unintentionally. His mom, who plays an integral part in his pain fascinated me. Her anger and her silent suffering, the big revelation at the end was shocking that I couldn't begin to imagine the impact it had on him at the time.

I loved the little snippets at the end about his family and what happened to them after the story had ended, it made it all the more real to me.

Great memoir.

Last Chance Saloon
Last Chance Saloon
Price: £5.26

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Waste of time, 10 May 2015
I cannot understand how this book is getting such rave reviews. I could barely finish it, I wanted to pull my hair out with boredom!

The characters were so silly and stupid that you just want to smack them in the head, especially Tara. Give me a break woman, how is it that you accept living with a man who dotes on his cat while spewing verbal abuses at you in the same second? Ridiculous.

And really, Marian Keyes, all the unnecessary're killing me. I was skimming through passage after passage after passage of text that meant absolutely nothing to me and added absolutely nothing to the story. I mean, this is a BIG book - 600 pages - for a story that could have been cut down to about 270-300 pages! I could not wrap my head around all the chapters that I could've literally torn right out of the book and still had a complete, full story intact.

And Lorcan...WHO THE HECK is Lorcan?! I spent more than three quarters of the book reading random chapters about this man who disgusted me to no end, only for his "purpose" to be revealed in the last few chapters of a 600 page book. REALLY?! Are you kidding me right now? He is unbelievably sickening, I cannot even begin to imagine how stupid women need to be in order to fall for this man based on looks ONLY. I mean really, nothing...NOTHING...else is redeeming about him but his looks, and even that, I find hard to believe that he's so good looking you lose sight of everything else. Shoot me now.

The only thing that kept me going at one point was the interaction and later, relationship, between Katherine and Joe. Finally, something worth reading in this book. Something sweet, and pure, with the regular ups and downs, but at least realistic and normal in this great spectacle of a book Keyes wrote.

I do not recommend this book to anyone, and I am disappointed at the amount of rave reviews it's gotten that fooled me into buying it and wasting my time.

Chasing Daisy
Chasing Daisy
by Paige Toon
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.39

3.0 out of 5 stars Daisy needs to get a hold of herself, 10 May 2015
This review is from: Chasing Daisy (Paperback)
So I wasn't a fan of this book to tell you the truth. It wasn't horrible, but it just wasn't good. I've read my fair share of chick-lit, and this doesn't even make the top 100 for me. That being said, I enjoyed certain parts of the story and I definitely enjoyed the setting and the Formula 1 scene that was present throughout the book.

Daisy is not bad for a female protagonist, although her immediate obsession with Will (one of the race drivers) was very annoying. The fact that he already has a girlfriend (childhood sweetheart, no less) makes it even more annoying. Luis, another race driver, can't seem to get along with Daisy. They keep butting heads and he seems to get on her nerves for no reason. However, you can tell right away that there's some sort of chemistry there between them. She seems able to talk to Luis and open up to him a lot more than she does around Will for one. With Will she's all flustered and shy and awkward and just plain silly. However, Will begins to lavish all his attention on her, and I find it revolting given the fact that he's unavailable.

So this whole part of the story was just weird, and I waited for the part when she finds out that Will is actually a jerk who sleeps around and she's not special at all. Except...that never happens. I admit I was surprised by the turn of events the story took when Will crashes and SPOILER ALERT dies. Did not see that coming. So Daisy is now grieving and mourning a man she barely knew who she insists she was in love with and he in turn was in love with her. Except she can't publicize her grief because no one was aware of their secret relationship.

Suffice it to say, she goes a little mental. She takes it out on poor Luis, who in turn has a nervous breakdown. And flees the country.

This part made me hate Daisy a little bit. Only because she would NOT stop crying and whining. Months pass, and she is still going through this mental phase where she seems to have built Will up in her head to be this thing that he really wasn't.

Wasn't a great book, but it wasn't too bad of a distraction either. It sure did make me miss the F1 races, and now I'm looking forward to November when I can get back to that scene in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The Kiss of Deception (Remnant Chronicles)
The Kiss of Deception (Remnant Chronicles)
by Mary E. Pearson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £10.87

5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant start to the series!, 10 May 2015
This was an absolutely fantastic read! After being bullied into buying it, and then reading it, by my sister (thank you!), I found myself unable to stop. I easily breezed through the 500 pages and hated myself for it later because I wanted it to last longer.

Lia is such a great protagonist. Strong, independent, clever and has a good head on her shoulders. She knows what she wants and she goes after it. She decidedly flees her arranged marriage in defiance, escaping from the unknown prince she was to marry, her family and her entire kingdom. She leaves hoping for a new life somewhere else, with her lady's maid, confidante and best friend Pauline, not taking into consideration the consequences of her actions.

The prince, curiosity piqued, chases after her. While at the same time, an assassin is sent to kill the princess. The princess being a First Daughter is known to have certain gifts, Lia however, believes she has none and therefore should not be subjected to being treated as one.

Developing a new identity for herself in a small village/town, she begins working in a tavern with Pauline and her aunt. There she meets two men, Rafe and Kaden, who she assumes are traveling together. We, the readers, know that one of them is the prince and one of them is the assassin, but we don't know which is which. We get different narrations from The Prince, The Assassin, Rafe, Kaden and Lia.

Now, I just want to take this moment to say I CALLED IT! From the get go, I called it. I knew who's who and kept my fingers crossed hoping I was right! I will admit to being a little thrown off at times, but I stuck to my gut and I was right.

I loved the development of the characters, how we start off seeing one side and end up seeing whole new sides to them. The twists and turns and surprises. The way the relationships evolved between Lia and everyone else was brilliant. Seeing her change and grow and open up to her surroundings was refreshing. I knew that her little "holiday" at the village must come to an end, but I had hoped it would last much longer because I was enjoying her interactions with Rafe and Kaden and their little love triangle.

Spoilers ahead:

All good things must come to an end though, and ultimately, once she is faced with her brother who is now a broken, crazed man due to his pregnant wife's death, we finally hit a climax. Lia decides it is time to go home and face her responsibilities, but before she could we find out who is who and she is taken by the assassin who is now torn between his loyalty to his people and his feelings towards her. From there onwards, a lot more is happening in terms of action. The story suddenly takes a swift turn into something darker and a lot more serious. Lia's journey amongst her abductors is eye-opening to her and to us, the readers. Her strength is showcased and I couldn't help but respect her for the way she handled everything. The one part where she witnesses her brother's death and refuses to leave until she buried him and all his men was the most heart-wrenching thing I have ever read. The description of her hands, her fingers, her fingernails as she dug each grave. Her resilience, her strength, her grief, was unbearable for me. I could feel my throat close up with the urge to sob uncontrollably at her loss and her helplessness. While the men who abducted her (assassin included) stood there watching her dig the graves...that even they couldn't stand watching her pain anymore. What an amazing, wonderful scene. Mary E. Pearson won me over then and there with her writing and her skill and her ability to make you feel with every part of your being.

A great book, I cannot wait to read the next installment.

The Iron Man: A Children's Story in Five Nights
The Iron Man: A Children's Story in Five Nights
by Ted Hughes
Edition: Paperback
Price: £4.79

4.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic, 3 May 2015
I was thrilled when I got this copy of The Iron Man from my husband. I've always loved the movie The Iron Giant, and have it almost memorized in its entirety! I never knew that it was based on a book, nor that it was a book written by Ted Hughes!

I shamefully admit that this was my first Ted Hughes book, and although I enjoyed it, it was close to nothing like the movie. That put me off for many reasons, but the biggest being that I was reading it with the movie playing in my head, which was probably my mistake.

The Iron Man was more of a victim-turned-hero in this book than he was made to in the movie, and the fighting scene at the end against the big black dragon from space was insanely brilliant. I thoroughly enjoyed it and the cleverness behind it.

I would recommend to all who decide to read this book and have watched the film adaptation beforehand to think of it as completely independent from the movie. Otherwise, you will find yourself disappointed, as did I.

The Girl on the Train
The Girl on the Train
by Paula Hawkins
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £6.00

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thrilling, with unsavory characters, 3 May 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Girl on the Train (Hardcover)
To say this book is gripping and you won't be able to put it down is an understatement. However, I will be the first to admit that this was nothing like I'd expected, not from the synopsis nor the reviews. I bought this book after witnessing all the hype surrounding it and the plot seemed very interesting, albeit a bit vague, enough for me to purchase it.

I loved the idea of a girl on the same train every morning and evening, spying on people and creating whole lives for them in her head. I loved the idea of her witnessing something crazy and finding herself in the middle of a thrilling crime. What I didn't expect is that this girl is an irritating alcoholic, who brings nothing but trouble, who is obsessive, and who is honestly, just sickening to read about. I did not expect this girl, spying on people, to be actually spying on the neighborhood where she used to live with her husband Tom, who cheated on her and then left her for that woman. Tom, who now has a child with that woman and is living with his new family in their house.

Rachel struck me as unstable with a load of mental issues. Her drinking problem really got on my nerves at one point, but Paula Hawkins still made me want to read on to find out what happened.

One mysterious night, Rachel returns to the flat she's sharing with a friend bruised and bleeding. She blacks out, and wakes up the next morning not able to remember anything. All she knows is that the night before she had gotten off the train at the stop where she usually sees the couple she spies on, who she later finds out are called Megan and Scott, but everything after that is erased from her memory. She has an angry voice mail from her ex-husband asking her to leave them alone, that she's scaring his wife, Anna. She doesn't know what she's done this time, but is terrified due to the condition she woke up in.

When she realizes that Megan has disappeared and the police are interrogating her about her whereabouts the night before, she is even more freaked out and becomes, if possible, even more obsessive. She makes it her mission to try and remember what happened that night and involves herself in everyone's lives, including that of Megan's husband and therapist. A lot of the times she makes things much worse, but sometimes, she comes close to piecing together the missing pieces.

We are also given a glimpse into Megan and Anna's lives as they get to narrate their own chapters. We find out what Megan's life was really like with her husband and with her past, and we delve into Anna's insecurities and fears.

I can't say I liked any of the characters, male or female. However, I found myself reading on until the very last page unable to pull myself away from the book. For that, I gave it 5 stars, because it takes real skill for an author to be able to suck me in this much despite my loathing for the characters. I can't say I expected more, but I did expect something completely different.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 11, 2015 12:12 PM BST

The Bridgertons: Happily Ever After (Bridgerton Family)
The Bridgertons: Happily Ever After (Bridgerton Family)
by Julia Quinn
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.19

3.0 out of 5 stars It was good, 28 April 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
To be honest, I was seriously looking forward to reading these second epilogues and having a chance to delve into the Bridgerton's lives again. Once I started reading through, I realized that it wasn't what I had hoped it would be. For one thing, it had been a long time since I read the series that it took time to get back into the swing of things.

I enjoyed reading about supporting characters and seeing their happy endings, however I was hoping for more of the 8 siblings and less of the supporting characters. I know it's difficult to write a second epilogue, and Julia Quinn did a decent job, although sometimes it seemed random, it was still decent.

The one thing I really didn't want to read about was Violet's story. She has been such a great character in every single one of the series. An amazing mother, a beautiful, elegant lady and a wonderful role model to all, that it was a bit strange for me to see her as the young girl she was when she met their father and fell for him. I definitely did not want to read about her sexual escapades with him either, having been that fictional mother figure to all. I was saddened at how he died, but I felt if Quinn was going to tell her story, she deserved a full-length novel, rather than a shortened, rushed version of it.

It was sweet to read about the Bridgertons again, but not what I had hoped it would be. I admit to feeling slight disappointment.

by Emily Bleeker
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Badly executed, 28 April 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Wreckage (Paperback)
I must say I am very disappointed by this book. I bought it based on the synopsis and how interesting it sounded. I had never heard of the author before, but I bought it on a whim because I was taken in by the storyline.

*Spoilers ahead*

Unfortunately, it did not meet any of my expectations. I went in looking for adventure, drama, and whole lot of mystery. I ended up reading some long-winded interview that was taking place, while it alternated back and forth through past and present events.

For starters, I don't understand why there were only 4 passengers on the plane, including Theresa and Dave, who work for the airline and PR company. So basically, only Lillian and her mother in law were the main passengers on this flight? I know it's a small plane, but I would've appreciated more characters being present, or at least mentioned. When the blurb says "brave survivor of a plane crash", you can't help but think large scale plane crash.

Then, there's Kent, strange, violent pilot. And Paul? An invisible character that is mentioned over and over again, but is nowhere to be seen. Not for a while anyway.

The synopsis talks about how Lillian is a liar, and how things happened on the island that they can't share with anyone. How a reporter is after them to get to the bottom of the story and find out what really happened when they got stranded for two years before their rescue. I mean, wow. It sounds INTENSE. So when I started reading it, and found out that the reporter is really not much of a threat, and her role consisted of interviewing Lillian and Dave and asking them "tough" questions for the WHOLE DURATION of the book, ending with her basically giving up on finding out what really happened, I was honestly put off. Not to mention the fact that the lies they were keeping were completely exaggerated and unnecessary!

And the jumping back and forth in time to see what really took place on the island, reading from Lillian and Dave's POV, was not exciting either. How can it be when it's just them two on an island for the majority of the time? I was bored out of my mind. There was nothing to keep me hooked, to suck me in, to make me feel for them. I just wanted this book to end so I can find out who Paul was. Oh the disappointment when I did find out.

But please, let's discuss that ending. When the survivors each go back to their lives and their spouses, and they're finally happy and have moved on from the events on that island, we find out that Lillian gave Dave her eggs so he can have a baby with his wife, and Lillian's husband eventually finds out as does Dave's wife. That's not all though, everyone is absolutely OK with that!! In fact, they're all best buddies now and couldn't be happier!!

Really? Is that realistic? If I find out my husband went to the woman he loved for two years and asked her to be the egg donor of our child, I would be furious. Not thankful.

I really don't understand this book. So many plot holes. The execution of the actual storyline is weak and the character development is nonexistent. Do not recommend this book.

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