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J F Atkin

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The Family Way
The Family Way
by Tony Parsons
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Mediocre., 2 Sept. 2005
This review is from: The Family Way (Paperback)
Having enjoyed Tony Parsons previous books, i picked this up for one of my holiday reads this year. The story follows three sisters who were abandoned by thier mother early on and were raised mainly by nannies and the eldest. Now all living thier lives as twenty and thirty somethings, we follow them as they each embark on the possibility and the reality of pregnancy and babies.
A very easy read, took me about 3 hours, and i have to say that it was just ok. Nothing exciting or emotional (although Parsons obviously intended us to have hankies at the ready). I found some characters to perfect and some too scatty. Everything was very, very predictable and very disappointing.
No characters had any grip and i found that the author just had them do whatever fit in the story . . .the boy madly in love had a one night stand. . . .the woman who hated her ex and vowed revenge took him back . . . . etc etc. All a bit boring really.
Its a really easy read, will while away a couple of hours and if you cant get your hands on anything else, then read it. Otherwise, dont bother.
A real disappointment from a previously good author.


Coach Carter [DVD]
Coach Carter [DVD]
Dvd ~ Samuel L. Jackson
Offered by A ENTERTAINMENT
Price: £2.56

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Samuel L Strikes Again!, 25 Aug. 2005
This review is from: Coach Carter [DVD] (DVD)
This is the true story of Coach Ken Carter, who returns to his old high school in a rough area, to coach the school basketball team. Although it sounds like every other "Team doing badly, new coach saves all" story, this one has more to it than that.
Samuel L Jackson plays (as always) a fabulous part, coach, father, basketball player and truly good person.
I dont want to say alot more, as i dont want to ruin the story. Its definately worth a watch, was thoroughly enjoybale and even brought the odd lump to my throat!


The Time Traveler's Wife (Vintage Magic)
The Time Traveler's Wife (Vintage Magic)
by Audrey Niffenegger
Edition: Hardcover

5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful read with a heartbreaking ending!, 26 July 2005
The Time Travellers Wife by Audrey Niffenger is one of the most moving and emotional books of all time. Rarely does an author engage you so much in thier story that you feel you know the characters personally, feel the joy and loss they feel, and remember them long after you have finished reading.
This story is about Henry and Clare. Henry is a Time Traveller; he has a genetic disorder which causes him to be pulled into the past or future, involuntarily, at times he cannot control, leaving nothing in his place, in his present. Clare is his love, his wife and quite literally his life. At first the concept of Henrys Time Travelling is confusing and you find yourself thinking about it too much, but Niffenger breaks you in gently and within the first quarter of the book, you are in complete understanding.
Written with flow and intensity, this book is at once both a original idea with amazing and fateful consequences, and a marvellous love story. The bond between Henry and Clare is begun when Clare is 6 and Henry 43, sealed when they marry (Clare is only 8 years younger in the present) and continues throughout thier lives.
For a first novel, this is a truly remarkable achievement. I finished the book a week ago (i always wait a few days before writing reviews), and i have to say, i havent stopped thinking about the story, and about the characters.
My criticism is this. . . .the ending is unsatisfactory. For me anyway. Im not saying every novel should end in "happily ever after" but i do hate loose ends. I think Niffenger could have finished on a much happier or lighter note, while still achieving the same end result. I found myself quite literally devastated by the ending, cried my eyes out and then read the last few pages again. I understand the need for grit and heartache in the story, but its not that i feel it was just sad and i didnt like that. . . .i thought the ending was perhaps a bit rushed. Suddenly it was the end. . . . i think there was a better way of doing it, tying up a few things that i felt were missing.
This is the only reason im giving 4 stars instead of 5. I loved this book, adored it, and could read it again today and then again next week. The characters become friends, you will feel the concept of Time Travel is perfectly reasonable, you will adore Clare and worship Henry. You will laugh with them, and you will cry, more than once, with them.
Audrey Niffenger has written a startling and beautiful novel, a wonderful love story about people you relate to and care for and a novel about a, quite frankly, crazy, yet ubelievably fabulous idea. I cant wait to read more by this author, if subsequent novels are anything like this one, she is onto a winner. . . .and so are her readers!


Circle of Friends
Circle of Friends
by Maeve Binchy
Edition: Paperback

23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another Triumph for Maeve Binchey!, 11 July 2005
This review is from: Circle of Friends (Paperback)
Having read many of Maeve Bincheys books, i have to say that Cirle of Frieds, one of her earlier novels, is easily one of the best, and a book i would happily recommend to anyone looking for an entertaining, laugh-out-loud, hankies at the ready book.
Based on two friends, Benny and Eve, from a sleepy village in Ireland, the book centres on friendship and growing up. Binchey deals with love, tradegy, the struggle to fit in, and the strength of true loyalty between friends.
The characters are wonderful, people you love, like, dislike and hate. People you relate to and people you can easily imagine. Maeve Binchey has a talent of making you feel part of the story, making the characters seem like people you know and the heartaches feel like they are yours.
I laughed out loud at this book, as i do at most Binchey novels, she is a truly humerous Irish author. I also shed a few tears! The Irish backdrop, the accents and the life in a Catholic village with nuns for teachers, is ever popular in Bincheys stories and a formula that works again and again.
Read this book. . . . and appreciate the people close to you. Too often we take the people we love for granted. . . .let Circle of Friends show you real strength among true friends!


Wimbledon [DVD] (2004)
Wimbledon [DVD] (2004)
Dvd ~ Kirsten Dunst
Offered by A ENTERTAINMENT
Price: £1.26

4 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lighten Up Reviewers. . . .its a great Romantic Comedy!, 9 July 2005
This review is from: Wimbledon [DVD] (2004) (DVD)
Having read some of the negative reviews on "Wimbledon" i had to add my own opinion. I do not believe that anyone watches a Romantic Comedy for anything but light relief, entertainment and a bit of the feel-good factor. This film provides them all! For those looking for a deep storyline and characters with twists and a surprise ending. . . .look elsewhere. "Wimbledon" is simply a great Romantic Comedy with likeable characters (especially the truly adorable Paul Bettany), laughs and a happy ever after ending. Isnt that what we all want to watch after a hard week at work?
Briefly, the story follows Peter Colt, professional tennis player who has never made it really big (top ranking being 11th, he is now, at 30 something, dwindling along at 119th!). Peter gets a wild card to Wimbledon, his last professional tournament of his career. Here he meets Lizzie Brady (played by Kirsten Dunst whom i have never taken to before, but really liked in this film) top American female tennis player, who is playing at her first Wimbledon. From there love blossoms and its entertainment and laughs from there on in.
Im not any kind of expert on tennis, so i cant say if true tennis fans would enjoy watching the actors play, but it all seemed very believable and real to me.
The acting is great by the two main characters, there is believable and easy going chemistry between Bettany and Dunst, and there are some other familiar faces along the way. The only person who seems a bit weak is Lizzies father (actor Sam somebody, i cant remember his last name, but he was in Jurrassic Park).
"Wimbledon" is a great Romantic Comedy, a very easy watch and a solid all-round British film (although i did notice that not one commentator was British, only American!). Perfect for a lazy weekend night in! To sum up, its a fabulous Romantic Comedy that does exactly what it says on the tin! Watch it and see for yourself!
P.S. Paul Bettany, im available for marriage, relationships, flings, dates, friendship, polishing your shoes. . . . anything really!


Watermelon
Watermelon
by Marian Keyes
Edition: Paperback

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another great Marian Keyes Book!, 30 Jun. 2005
This review is from: Watermelon (Paperback)
Marian Keyes' first novel is (as are the rest) funny, romantic, extremely well written, easy to relate to and just plain enjoyable. Watermelon is a deliciously easy read with many laugh out loud moments and the odd tear here and there. A great start to a wonderful career of writing some of the best books on todays shelves.
Definately in Keyes' top 5 novels, the only criticism i can make (if any at all) is that the characters are not as well developed as in her later books. Doesnt detract from the story, just an observation . . . .this is one author thats just getting better and better!


Rachel's Holiday
Rachel's Holiday
by Marian Keyes
Edition: Paperback

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Marian Keyes. . . . i think i love you!, 30 Jun. 2005
This review is from: Rachel's Holiday (Paperback)
Quite simply. . . . .Rachels Holiday is one of the best books i have ever read. I know there are plenty of other reviews on this book, all undoubtedly saying the same as me. . .but i had to let you all know my opinion.
Rachel is a young Irish woman in New York, a recreational drug taker and a real party girl. When one evening she takes too many drugs, writes what she thinks is poetry but is taken as a suicide note, slips into a coma and has to have her stomach pumped to save her; her family arrive and take her back to Ireland where she agrees to go into rehab only because she will meet celebrities, work out in the gym and eat fabulous food. Needless to say, its not quite like that.
This book is thought provoking, unbelievably hilarious while tackling such a majorly serious subject, heartwarming, tearjerking, upsetting and mostly, the biggest love story out of any of Keyes' books.
Rachel is a wonderful character who is written in the first person style (definately one of Keyes' greatest talents), a person you will love, scorn, cry for and laugh with. She is hilarious, heartbreaking, annoying and wonderful. The greatest of all Marian Keyes' characters.
I cannot urge you to read this book enough. It takes a serious matter and shows you every which way of looking at it. Its not a book which urges you to use drugs, nor scorns those that do, its not a lecture or attempt at changing society. Its simply a great book, written by an author with true talent who knows how to make a book last forever in your memory. For all those that have done the drug thing and come out the other side then read this. For all those who want a book that will touch you to the core and make you realise how good your life is. . . .read read read!
Marian Keyes. . . .i salute you.


Empress Orchid
Empress Orchid
by Anchee Min
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

46 of 48 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Extremely enjoyable read but slightly disappointing ending., 28 Jun. 2005
This review is from: Empress Orchid (Paperback)
I picked this book up at the airport and read the back while waiting for my husband to buy some magazines. I hadnt even finished the back cover and knew i had to have it.
The storyline centres around Orchid, a young Chinese girl in the 1800's who is chosen as one of the Emperor's Concubines and becomes one of the most powerful women in Chinese history. It follows her life from enterting into her marriage and gives you a real insight into the Forbidden City and life as a concubine.
This is an extremely enjoyable read which is written in an easy to follow style. I thoroughly enjoyed the way the author has written it, her style is fresh and keeps your attention constantly.
The character of Orchid and that of her head Eunuch are both interesting and very likeable characters. The voice of Orchid is truthful and entertaining with a hint of every emotion possible. There are tearful moments and laugh out loud snippets.
I would recommend this book happily, and would have given it 5 stars but for the fact i felt the ending was a little frustrating. The author finished on what she believes to be a high note and a good ending, but part of her writing style is to tell you parts of the future throughout the book in a casual manner (for example from the beginning Orchid tells us about being the most powerful woman in China by becoming the Empress, you dont have to read past the first chapter to see she will survive through all death threats etc in the book). However at the end i felt that a few of these casually mentioned parts of the story were not finished off and i found that frustrating. I really needed to know more! Its almost like there was going to be a second part, you were left really wanting more.
I am a big fan of Memoirs of a Geisha and Geisha of Gion, and although a totally different subject manner, i found this book equally fascinating.
Happy reading!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 8, 2013 7:34 PM BST


My Sister's Keeper
My Sister's Keeper
by Jodi Picoult
Edition: Paperback

41 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars DONT READ THE END! Or then again, yes do read it!, 28 Jun. 2005
This review is from: My Sister's Keeper (Paperback)
I had never read any of Jodi Picoult's books before this one, and only read this because of an Amazon review. I expected alot from this book, built it up very much in my own mind and through many good things id heard about it. . . .i thought it would be on the same level as "The Lovely Bones" by Alice Sebold (an absolute must read for everyone).
The basic storyline is that a 13 year old girl named Anna decides to sue her parents for the rights to her own body. . . she is a "designer baby" who has had years and years of donating blood, platelets, bone marrow etc etc to her sister Kate, who has luekemia. If Anna wins her fight, it ultimately means that Kate will die. It is also about how Kates illness effects every member of her family and every aspect of thier lives.
The book is split into chapters narrated by different characters, Anna, her father, her mother, her brother, her lawyer and her court appointee, which i liked, but there was alot of similarities between characters which some people will find wither irritating or disappointing. This means you see every character's perspective throughout the story.
I do think that if i hadnt heard so much about it i wouldnt have found it quite so gripping at the beginning, sometimes i felt that what really kept the pages turning quickly was the thought of an amazing ending.
However, i would say just after halfway through the book Picoult came into her own. The chapter about Kate and her boyfriend was the first to make me cry, Picoult goes for the heartstrings in this chapter, narrated by Kate and Anna's mother and from then on in the book takes a new slide, you are more involved, the story is deeper and you find yourself torn between the decision Anna wants to make and the fight her parents are putting up.
The fight between Anna and her mother and father ends in a courtroom battle, which is a strong part of the story. However straight after this there is a huge twist in the book and the ending is quite simply horrific. I dont mean Picoult hasnt written it well, i simply mean it was the most upsetting and hard-to-read ending of any book ever. I cried and cired until there were no tears left and finished with the biggest feeling of sadness ever. Its only now, about 4 weeks after reading it that i can appreciate the book.
Picoult has done what alot of authors dare not do: she has abandoned the idea of a Hollywood ending where everyone lives happily ever after and gone for pure courage, grit and an everlasting memory of her story. I have to say that as soon as i finished this book i rang 2 other friends who were reading it and said "dont read the end, its awful" and told others not to read the book at all, i found it so upsetting. But, on reflection, this is an amazing book by an amazing author, someone who will be on my bookshelves forever more. The feeling of the story has stayed with me and as i said,i finished this about a month ago. Its a gripping book which will have you in tears and will make you want more and more.
I currently have "Vanishing Acts" by Jodi Picoult winging its way to me. "My Sisters Keeper" deserves 5 Stars, should be read by many people and should make you appreciate every single day of your good health and every single moment with your children. We never know how lucky we are.
Happy reading!


Lucky
Lucky
by Alice Sebold
Edition: Paperback

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, but emotionally draining., 12 Nov. 2004
This review is from: Lucky (Paperback)
Alice Sebold has written her true account of the brutal beating and rape she was subjected to whilst at college. This story is heart wrenching and extremely emotional, very dark in places and triumphant in others. I have to admit that I was emotionally drained after reading this, although i am very glad that i did.
The story of anyones rape would be difficult to read, and Alice thrives on the difficulty of her subject, by taking you through every minute, every feeling, every reaction of the account. By the end of the book you feel it has happened to a close friend. I have to say that I found this book hard to read, and by the end was very sad, regardless of her survival and her spirit.
Alice Sebold is a remarkable woman, there is no denying it. I read Lucky because i loved her first book The Lovely Bones so much. This is a completely different book, Alice is unbelievably honest about every part of her trauma,brutal in her honesty throughout, she spares the reader nothing, tells you everything a rape victim would usually keep to themselves - if you read it, you are in for the whole ride.
The message that has stayed with me since reading the book is this - Alice says she hears people saying they would rather die than be raped. She dismisses this as ridiculous, she says she would rather be raped over and over than be killed. The way she describes this makes me feel the fear she had for her life while being raped, and its not a nice feeling. For every person out there who has never had something truly dreadful happen to them, count your blessings, and read this book - it will make you appreciate your life.


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