Hausfrau

Hausfrau

Hausfrau by Jill Alexander Essbaum

Recommended by Stylist magazine and hailed as the modern day Madam Bovary.  As the title (‘House Wife’ in German) suggests it is the story of bored house wife Anna, her meetings with a psychiatrist and the lovers she has taken to pass the time.  I probably should mention that it highlights her lack of parenting skills and her complete disregard for the feelings of those around her.  The story jumps back and forth between the past and present with interludes of shrink conversations.  Each element to the story seems unimportant, yet together I suppose it built upon her mental state.

I found this book tedious,  I guessed her fate from the outset, because it was the only way she was going to be released from her constant narcissistic drivel.  None of her woes made any sense, the book contradicted itself so much.  She proclaimed to have no one around her and yet right there was a loving family.  Perhaps that example is too obvious but I can assure you Anna makes many mistakes.

Now, I understand that all this could very well be deliberate, showcasing the writer’s talent in aligning and developing her writing according to the mental state of the protagonist. But I turned to my husband at some points and said “I simply can’t read this anymore”…I did but that isnt the point.

 

3 star

Sycamore Row

Sycamore_Row_by_John-Grisham

Sycamore Row

Published: October 22, 2013, paperback July 2014

Author: John Grisham

A few months before reading this I read The Confession for the second time within less than 12 months. I never re-read books (unless it is Harry Potter).  So when I discovered Grisham had a new book out I was stomach butterfly excited!

I downloaded Sycamore Row as soon as I could and completely devoured the book like a lioness who has gone without zebra for weeks.  The book followed Jake Brigance, a solicitor introduced in an earlier book ‘A Time to Kill’.  I haven’t yet read A Time to Kill, however I happened upon the film one evening and was emotionally gripped, one of the best films I ever seen due to a dramatic storyline and a brilliant acting.

Back to Sycamore Row, it follows the aftermath of the death of a wealthy cancer stricken Southern man, Seth Hubbard,  leaving his estate to his black house cleaner and naming Jake Brigance as the estate’s solicitor.   Big sparks fly as Seth’s children and Grand children contest the decision made in his last, hand written Will claiming he was under duress or that he was too poorly to be in his right mind.

What is so superb about this story, is the way that Grisham can have you gripped to every word on the page as you eagerly urge the characters to discover just a thread of information.  A truely captivating read that once again draws on the racial segregation of Southern America.

I think the ending is the best part, you must read it!

5 star

Starting Over

Starting over

 

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Starting Over by Evan Grace

The book opens with a cutesy just turned 18 year old girl named Bellamy, dressing herself in preparation for losing her virginity with the guy she has been in love with like forever *yawn*. On reading the first couple of pages I did not have high expectations, especially after being introduced to other characters such as  ‘Lola’.  Just another trashy book that has somehow managed to claw itself onto the kindle most downloaded list.

In every sense I was correct, always follow your instincts. It was rubbish, a terrible story line which produced so many more questions than it could answer, but I was addicted and couldn’t put the book down! Yeah it was a trashy love story which could be predicted from the outset and yeah the names were terrible and the discourse appalling……but my god it’s addictive.

I would also like to mention that the book digresses on several occasions into a more intimate scenario. Perhaps not a book for the pure?

Four stars simply for being addictive

4 star

Divergent, Insurgent, Allegiant

divergent-series

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Divergent Trilogy by Veronica Roth

When you run, you aim to run negative times, always trying to beat your previous lap. So why can this concept not be applied to literature…we should all endeavour to be better the next time, shouldn’t we?  There are so many book series that seem to get worse as you read; Twilight, Hunger Games, Divergent….

I enjoyed Divergent, the concept wasn’t unfamiliar with a very Hunger Games vibe; society sectioned off and conforming to set standards and expectations. It was also definitely a young adult read with the standard strong female lead, action, betrayal and secret love, so nothing new basically.  Having said that, a great read which I finished quickly.

Insurgent was a little odd for me but I kept reading simply to know more, although I wasn’t addicted to it like I was the first. It was pretty much the same as Divergent but with an added twist of some killed off characters returning.

Allegiant, well, it is a means to an end I guess. It reminded me of the Hunger Games trilogy in that the first two books were strong, exciting and addictive and then along came the third which saw the protagonist as a quivering mess doing odd things to save everyone but themselves. Starting strong then gradually getting worse.

I sound like I am being too harsh, I did mention that it is aimed at young adults so maybe I am being too critical. I read all 3 after all.  Actually, the books made me feel like I was watching some dystopian Barbie world come to life, dolls being controlled by humans……ooo that is a spoiler by the way!

4 star

 

 

There is a film, the reason for my reading the books in the first place. It doesn’t look that bad actually…

Unchartered by Tracey Garvis Graves

unchartered

 

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Uncharted by Tracey Garvis Graves

Read here about how I absolutely LOVED On the Island. I found this book about 2 days ago and as with her first I could not put it down. Tracey is a wizard when it comes to making her characters addictive, desirable, relate-able.  I was gripped to her every word and needed to keep reading.

The story behind the skeleton ‘Owen Sparks’ found in a cave whilst T.J and Anna were On the Island. Simply yet amazingly entwined within the first book’s events, a happy ending overall.

I only award 4 stars as there clearly was not enough!!

4 star

 

Little Girl Lost

littlegirllost

 

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Little Girl Lost by Brian McGilloway

Currently the number 1 on the Top 100 paid on Kindle storefront. Not sure why I bought this, I think it was because after reading the Confession I assumed I would begin a crime binge. But alas! This book stopped me dead in my tracks.

The story of a girl who is found lost in the woods, bare footed in the snow by a police woman. The police woman has her own troubles, the police force is corrupt, there are kidnappings and fires and murders rah rah rah. One of those stories that is a maze of entwined story lines that seems to incorporate the whole of Northern Ireland and all the problems one small police force could possibly have, drama.

An ok book, not difficult to read and you can understand how this is in the charts, people these days seem to flock to the bad examples of literature (the diabolical 50 shades series to name one). Why is modern literature gradually falling into this pit of (ironic) shallowness!!! Where have all the good writers gone?

I gave this book 3 stars, it has a fairly good plot, a bit too busy at points and I found it quite hard to follow as the writer just seems to miss out points or maybe assume the reader is on the same thought train…either way, for such a simple read it’s baffling.

Has anyone else read this, or another of Brian’s? I can’t decide whether I like this.

3 star

The Innocents

The Innocents

The Innocents by Francesca Segal

Winner of the 2012 Costa First Novel award

I was attracted to this book because it won an award, yes I can be that shallow.  Sometimes we just need a large corporation to say this is a good book…buy it!  Although, I wish I hadn’t bought this! I paid the full 7.99 for this book on Kindle because I had the trust in Costa to suggest, well no, to give awards to decent books.

It sounds like I hate this book, I don’t. I read it continuously so it cannot be that bad. My problem with this book is that it I can only liken it to reading a few Episodes of Eastenders, or any soap in that there was lots of half-arsed drama, no beginning or end. This book is just strange, why would we want to be a fly on the wall to a rather placid family drama that never climaxes. There was plenty of gossiping and work dramas and endless Jewish references but can somebody please tell me why this book was written? I think it needs a prequel, or a sequel. What’s more, the title and the front cover have nothing to do with the story….a girl running through a garden…did I miss that bit in the book? The Innocents, huh? Don’t get me wrong I have studied English Literature and I would like to think I am perfectly capable of deciphering meanings within literature…..but this book I do not get.

Perhaps I should read The Age of Innocence to appreciate Segal’s new novel?

“In this impressive first novel, Francesca Segal transports The Age of InnocenceEdith Wharton‘s Pulitzer Prize-winning tale of scandal among the upper classes in 1870s New York, to the Jewish community of modern-day north-west London.” (http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012/may/06/innocents-francesca-segal-review)

This is a good book (said loosely), but I just think she should;

1. change the name

2. change the front cover to relate to the story…not be some cryptic reference to an inner self trying to run away type thing

3. Use less descriptive words. Francesca has the typical new writer syndrome where she feels she needs to write an adverb for every second word in the book…..this style of writing doesn’t demonstrate talent except for the ability to use a thesaurus.

Bah, what a rant!!

I don’t think I would suggest this book, and I wish I had ordered a sample before buying the full version.

3 star

If you want to read more about the Innocents, and probably some reviews that liked the book (we are all different);

The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared

hundredyearoldman

 

by Jonas Jonasson

 

I have never read a book like this before. It was not gripping nor was it exciting and it did not include any cliff hangers. But it was beautiful and heart warming and it felt as though I was lovingly listening to my Grandad recount the tales of his very long life. After each chapter  it was “Then what happened Grandad?”.

It is the story of a 100 year old man who decided that it was time to move on from his pensioner home, with the chapters alternating between the present day (2005) and the Mr Allan Karlsson’s life adventures, ranging from dinners with Presidents of America to inventing the Atomic bomb and being a prisoner in Russia under Stalin’s rule.

A fantastic story, it would make the most incredible bed time story for young and old alike with laugh out loud moments and a happy ending.

4 star

Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood

oryx-and-crake

Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood

An odd book, to say the least. But odd on whos terms? This book was casually recommended to me by a friend and in a drought of good literature I decided to take the plunge.

This book is hard hitting from the outset. In fact it is really quite difficult to relax into due to Atwood’s writing style and even the storyline itself.  But, once the mind adjusts itself to this bizarre state of future events that flips back and forth and involves specially engineered humans…..it actually gets pretty dam addictive.

I thought it was an unatural but workable mix of Harry Potter, the Hunger Games and 1984; the imagination of first, the social aspects of the second and then the controlling and frightening nature of the last.  The book is set in the near future and as a general rule of my own personal thumb, I don’t tend to watch or read anything fictional that could actually happen, examples being the Scream film series, Dantes Peak and then the number of films about the catestrophic aftermath of global warming/war/disease….the list is endless. The reason for turning a blind eye: I worry and end up being frightened over nothing. So, Oryx and Crake had that aspect of realness, and was not too far fetched to be unbelievable. Was I scared…….I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t disturbed by the post apocolyptic setting.

Would I ever read another dystopian? Unlikely. Would I read Margaret Atwood again, I think so.

To be honest I downloaded this book without fully reading the blurb. Nethertheless, an EXCELLENT read! I implore you to read it.

4 star

On the Island

On the Island by Tracey Garvis Graves

WOW!! I read this book in a day! Literally could not put it down, in bed, at breakfast, on  the train, at lunch and at dinner. Then when it was finished I felt lonely and empty, feelings that have not stirred in me because of a book since Harry Potter.

The storyline is deep, quick and full! The story of two people washed up on the shore of a small Island and the tale of their survival and relationship. Although this story is not a new concept, I enjoyed Graves’ take with a third of the book dedicated to the after effects.  I can honestly say that I fell in love with Anna and T.J……I think I am speechless.  I think that authors should take heed from this book, it’s not simply about a great idea, the characters must be likeable too, this book is incredible.

I have seen the film The Blue Lagoon which I am sure must have been inspiration for the book. What I enjoyed most was that the Blue Lagoon follows the lives of two children maturing into inquisitive teens and then adults, who still retain their childhood innocence and simply have no clue as to why they have these feelings. Whereas, On the Island features an adult and a teen who are fully aware of actions and consequences, both stories trying to figure out sexual desire.  I think this makes for a nice contrast between the two, as similar as they may be.

I LOVE this book, even cried at the end….out of happiness!

The Song of Achilles

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

As you must all be well aware of by now, I am a historical fiction fanatic and when this one got recommended to me it was an instant purchase. Winner of the Orange Prize 2012 for fiction this was surely going to be a thrilling read, and it did not disappoint. Unlike many of the hard wired ‘can’t put this down’ books, ones that need to give you suspense after suspense and cliff hangers to rival Dover, The Song of Achilles was soft and inviting. An emotional book provoking feelings of love towards the two main characters. Miller needed no more than love to write this book (it took her 10 dedicated years to accomplish), and her passion for her young protagonists is evident like no over read.

Not only are the characters superbly constructed, but her attention to detail is unimaginable. I read because a book can transport me places I have never been before and Miller took me to ancient Greece where I felt the warmth of the sun and the cold stare of the sea nymphs, where I watched a friendship turn to love and I flinched when a life was taken before my eyes; a place where mythology and mortality are beautifully combined. However, if I had studied history would I feel the same way?

I recommend this book, probably my best read for a fair few months because of the writer’s talent for storytelling.

The Help

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Addictive! Completely and utterly on the edge of my seat constantly. Read in 2 days of solid 10am-4pm reading whilst on holiday. Story is told through different women and the writing style follows the social class of each woman. Highly recommend!

II have also seen the film adaptation, and I have to say it is fantastic! Not only one of the best films I have ever seen but also I am proud that the creators have visualised this incredible book in a deserving way.  As with many book adaptations, a fair amount has to be left out, but the film is true to story, character and emotions. I highly recommend watching.

Only the Innocent

Only the Innocent by Rachel Abbott

So I am not into modern literature and I bought this as something light and easy with the intention of not getting too involved in the book. I was WRONG! Great story, thrilling the whole way through and couldn’t put it down. Read in about 2 days. Story of a high profile murder, and the untold story behind the victims’ ‘perfect’ life.

One Day

One Day by David Nicholls
This book did not appeal to me at.all. I picked it up as a last resort whilst on holiday, in the midst of the book’s success but before a film was released. Everything about this book I hated, the concept, the period, the popularity…..before I read it. So I still don’t LOVE this book but I recognise that it is a good read and I wouldn’t hesitate in recommending it……but I still haven’t seen the film, Sorry.

The movie trailer;