Atonement

 

Atonement

Published: 2001

Author: Ian McEwan

This book has been on my radar since the film release in 2007, but I never felt an overwhelming urge to read it so although I had it on my kindle it wasn’t until I bought the hard copy a few weeks ago that I decided now would be as good a time as any.

For those of you living under a rock, the story goes that a young girl commits a crime that allegedly has disastrous consequences for her sister and their long term family friend; it sees lovers torn apart and a family in turmoil. The film trailer and even the book synopsis created this illusion that I was about to read something terrible, awful. This young girl unwittingly commits a crime and the whole world turns upside down because of it. The problem I had with this book is that the crime wasn’t drastic enough for me; the lives after the said crime were not substantially decimated.

Setting the scene for this lie was the most interesting part of the book; it was most of the book in fact! Everything after just seemed to fall out of the authors mouth like word vomit. I didn’t think enough emphasis went on any character so how a reader can feel that lives have been turned upside down is beyond me. Example, the elder sister stops speaking to her family (apologies for a reveal), but how did this impact her or the family? It doesn’t say.

It might seem that I am being harsh and I suppose I have my own high expectations to contend with, I did enjoy the book. Maybe it is because I like period literature, or maybe it is because I have a black heart and wanted to read about the ruining of lives!

On that note, there was one poignant scene in the book, set on the beaches of Dunkirk in WWII after the retreat had been ordered; it saw a fight ensue between army soldiers and a weak member of the RAF. This spat tore at my heart strings, and I thought McEwan successfully captured the absolute carnage of human mentality and body on those beaches over 70 years ago.

 Although my review has the pretence of snubbing the literary efforts of McEwan, I would recommend the book.  I would always recommend the book over a film.  The setting of the scene was beautifully done, and the descriptiveness of the war efforts were also very good.

 

4 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

Inside all of us is… A Wild Thing

Inside all of us is Hope.
Inside all of us is Fear.
Inside all of us is Adventure.
Inside all of us is… A Wild Thing.

WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE

Dear Daughter

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Dear Daughter by Elizabeth Little

A few weeks ago Stylist magazine published an article on the best books that have fallen below the radar in 2014, of which I instantaneously ripped out and stuffed it into my handbag. I couple of weeks later I then perused the page again with a smug, self congratulatory air and named Dear Daughter as the first book I would devour.

 Consumed within a couple of days, I could not put this book down. I revelled in the re-awakening of an addiction, which hadn’t flared up for some time.  It was such an unusual read, as though I were watching an interview on E-Entertainment with the same digression and memories a person would have if they were sat in front you.  There was also supporting evidence thrown in for weight such as Twitter feeds, news articles and texts which entertained the E-news similarity.  Elizabeth Little is an artist when it comes to setting up and delivering cliff hangers, I thought I predicted the climax. But I was wrong, and that felt so good!

It is the story of a wealthy American-Swiss Socialite who is jailed for murdering her philanthropist Mother.  It starts with her release 10 years later.

An excellent read, written in a modern, swearing way which usually I would have steered clear from. I will say this, missing words occur regularly.

5 star

An Officer and a Spy

An officer and a spy

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An Officer and a Spy by Robert Harris

Last year I read The Ice King and it wasn’t until I had finished the book that I realised the target audience was the male reader. Now that I can recognise the traits, I immediately cogitated this book as for men. Well, in all honesty it must be fairly obvious considering the first chapter was completely dominated by a military situation which involved a lot of military terms and phrases. I contemplated throwing in the towel and moving onto something more appealing to my female mind (feminists please don’t attack me).

I am glad I continued and endured the first few chapters of words that flew completely over my head, thinking to myself, “I am sure it will all come together”. And come together it did. The story then became fascinating, and I fell whole heartedly into Harris’ mindset, timeframe and location. Thinking about the characters whilst reading and then each time I put the book down I simply couldn’t get enough of when the next crucial revelation was arriving and from where.

The story is set on the Dreyfus Affaire, a true story about a Jew punished for allegedly being a traitor in the French army passing secret information to the Germans by being sent to live in squalid conditions on a remote island near the Faulklands.  If you google the story you will discover that Dreyfus was in fact innocent and the story details the discovery of his guiltlessness and the extremes people went to both punish and save him and those around him.

A truly fascinating read that both shocked and taught me about this infamous scandal.  I highly recommend this book.

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

“Thousands of books let me try out thousands of lives and attitudes in safety, and help me define who I am and who I am not”

 

 

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“Thousands of books let me try out thousands of lives and attitudes in safety, and help me define who I am and who I am not”

Another great quote from Stylist magazine.

“Only the captivation of fiction allows you to fully understand….”

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I saw this quote in Stylist magazine about Historical Fiction, and you know how much I LOVE historical fiction….

 

Wolf Hall

Wolf Hall

 

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The book fairy came to me again yesterday, but this time he hand delivered the goods. He had been given this book in a corporate goody bag of some sort and thought I might like to read it! I glimpsed the Orange Prize sticker on the front and exclaimed my delight at award winning books. Then after he walked away I read the back and now I cannot wait to start it as it is only my favorite sort of book…historical, set in Tudor England 🙂

This is now next in line!!

 

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