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Reviews Written by
J Hutch (North Yorkshire, UK)

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We Need To Talk About Kevin
We Need To Talk About Kevin
Price: £1.89

4.0 out of 5 stars Why did it happen?, 20 Jun. 2015
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When we hear about school shootings on the news, we usually want to know why - what led the young person to commit this crime? Were they born evil, did their upbringing cause them to be unfeeling and cruel, and what had happened during their time at school to make them so vindictive to other pupils? The mother in this novel takes you through these interesting nurture/ nature aspects in a series of letters to the father, starting at the very beginning - before the birth of her son, through his childhood and adolescence and on to her relationship with him in prison. The topic and structure is a great idea and it is very thought provoking, but I found the mother's voice and her ramblings quite hard to like, and stay with. However, I don't think we are meant to like her particularly, although we can still feel sorry for her. It made me thankful that my frustration in bringing up my quietly stuborn son was nothing compared to the nightmare of their relationship. But I did wonder how reliable a narator was the mother supposed to be; was she painting her son as evil from babyhood to deflect thoughts and accusations of not being a good enough mother? I think it would make a good book club choice as there is plenty to discuss. Can and does the book answer the question 'why'?


The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox
The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox
Price: £5.22

5.0 out of 5 stars Very good, 31 May 2015
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This is by far the best of four novels I have read by the author. Interesting and emotional subject matter, with a story that was cleverly unfolded - it kept me absorbed and intrigued. Nice writing too.


The Railway Man
The Railway Man
by Eric Lomax
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

4.0 out of 5 stars The cruelty of war, 7 May 2015
This review is from: The Railway Man (Paperback)
A well documented account of the authors horrific experiences in a prisoner of war camp during the Second World War. Although, the literary style does not have the depth of that found in Jodie Picoult's 'The Storyteller', it is nonetheless very poignant because 'The Railway man' is a true story. It also sadly reminds us that many returning soldiers had to live their life in a psychological hell, after having gone through a physical hell. I found the author's capacity to forgive very humbling.


The Miniaturist
The Miniaturist
Price: £2.69

4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, intriguing and intense, 2 May 2015
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This review is from: The Miniaturist (Kindle Edition)
Set in seventeen century Amsterdam, this is an intense account of a young bride's efforts to settle into a new life with a somewhat unconventional family for that period. The story is full of mystery, intrigue and drama, as well as period detail. Nella, is given an unusual wedding present from her husband - a doll's house. Although not initially interested in this, she becomes obsessed with the miniature items that are delivered to her, and also obsessed with the miniaturist who appears to be able to foresee the unfolding demise of the household.


The Distance Between Us
The Distance Between Us
by Maggie O'Farrell
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable middle but too many unnecessary back stories, 7 April 2015
I enjoyed the second half of the story once Jake and Stella meet. Both are running away from something, and are not very open about themselves but are intrigued by each other. Unfortunately, Stella's intense relationship with her sister and Jake's prior hasty marriage creates problems between Stella and Jake's budding romance. Although I found this, the general writing-style and the key events in their back stories interesting, there were other aspects of the novel that I didn't enjoy. The first half of the book was confusing because it jumped about in time and between too many characters, and I thought it had too many unnecessary back stories. Personally I would have enjoyed the book more if this part had been cut down by at least half, which probably could have been done without loosing the impact of later events and revelations. I was interested in the back story about Jake's father but unfortunately this wasn't followed through. And finally, I thought the end was unconvincing and over the top - it seemed to morph into a different style.


The Husband's Secret
The Husband's Secret
Price: £3.61

4.0 out of 5 stars A page turner, 29 Mar. 2015
It is the easy-to-read writing style, short chapters, and intriguing story line that made this a page turner. The author also openly presents the thoughts and feelings of all the main characters, making it easy to understand them. Perhaps I would have preferred the writing style to be a bit more subtle, but its a good book and I would recommend it.


Wake
Wake
Price: £3.66

4.0 out of 5 stars Good read, 17 Mar. 2015
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This review is from: Wake (Kindle Edition)
A moving story about three women trying to cope with the after effects of the first world world, grieving for those they have lost or adjusting to those who have come back from war changed men.


And the Mountains Echoed
And the Mountains Echoed
Price: £3.66

3.0 out of 5 stars Lost and disappointed, 13 Mar. 2015
Unfortunately I found this very hard to follow because the story contained too many characters and it was written from the perspective of too many people. The author could have helped me a little by being more explicit through out about who was narrating and how they linked to the others in the story. I probably should have made notes, as I would do if I was working on something! I ended up reading it over about a month, partially because I lost my enthusiasm for it quite early on and this in turn meant I lost the track of the story and forgot more easily who was narrating it. Nevertheless, the general idea of the story is quite interesting and the author definitely has a nice way with words, as I found with his two previous best sellers - which I really enjoyed. If you decide to read this one I would suggest setting aside time to get through large chunks of it at a time - and perhaps draw out the links between the characters!


The Snow Child
The Snow Child
by Eowyn Ivey
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.85

4.0 out of 5 stars A good winter read, 28 Feb. 2015
This review is from: The Snow Child (Paperback)
Although based around a fairy tale, it is written so you are kept guessing whether it is meant to be a fantasy or not. It also tells of the hardships of making a living from the land and the longing of wanting your own child. A good read.


The Rosie Effect: Don Tillman 2
The Rosie Effect: Don Tillman 2
by Graeme Simsion
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: £3.85

3.0 out of 5 stars Less enamoured, 28 Feb. 2015
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After well and truly singing the praises of the first book 'The Rosie Project', unfortunately I found myself less enamoured with this second book. Don and Rosie's characters seemed different to me from the first book, and the story seemed more farcical than the feel-good, light-hearted read of the first book. Sorry, I just didn't engage with this second one as much.


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