Book Reviews: Adult Fiction

Another of those modern classics that I felt I should read... but much like The Great Gatsby I got to the end and thought... why??? Yes I finished it but I can't tell you what happened because it didn't compute.

Plath's style of writing is nothing to sneer at but the story was so erratic... much like the protagonist. I found myself working back trying to work out who characters are that popped up in different places. All in all way too much effort for not much reward, maybe I should let classics pass me by.

Ever since I found out Mark Watson was a novelist as well as a pretty kick ass comedian I've been meaning to read one of his novels and I finally found a gap in the schedule.

Dominic is a photographer who has spent his whole life snapping other people's perfect days. The youngest of three children and by all accounts the most ignored he lives his life in the shadows whilst ignoring the knot in his stomach... a dark secret he can share with no one but his sister for fear of judgement and ostracism. There is subtle humour in Watson's style and his characters are immediately likeable - will definitely be delving into another soon. 

 I love Lisa Jewell and when I found a book in her back catalogue that had passed me by I got quite over excited! This may be partly due to the fact that it's set in South East London where I'm originally from and I read it on the lead up to a visit home but the thing I love about Jewell's writing is that she manages to write characters with whom you want to go out for dinner with, or for a pint down the local.
The London family are an average family, two parents, three boys all grown up but they all have their secrets to carry. When Gervase starts lodging at the London's home things start to change. Eldest son Tony is divorced, caught up with work, jealous of his younger brother who has a successful writing career and is in the midst of a whirlwind romance with a beautiful older woman. But when the youngest London, Ned, comes home from Australia (running away from his own mistakes) and the family is complete Gervase starts to work his magic.

I felt it was a poignant moment to read the lovely original Bridget Jones and came to the conclusion that Helen fielding is every woman! True, gritty, absolutely hilarious , it's no wonder Bridget has found a place in hearts of women all over the globe! I don' t think I need to say anything else really... suffice to say if you haven't read it yet... you're missing out!

The reading group choice for the Summer... because you need the whole Summer! Now I've never particularly got on with Dickens which is why two weeks into reading it I have only got a hundred pages into this hefty tome! I blame Hard Times at AS and A Level!

So I shall be persevering and hopefully it will make a future entry at some point - if somehow it never makes it back into the book reviews you'll know I've given up and you can judge me as you see fit! 

Wish me luck!

The cover of this book has been drawing me in at work for months and I've finally had a chance to get past the cover. Unfortunately I can't say it was worth the wait... what I found was a disturbing, disjointed story around a house haunted by memories, ghosts and voices from Conrad's past.

After Conrad's dad dies suddenly he comes into money and decides it is the right time to move away from the stress of LA to this quiet house in a Winsconsin cul-de-sac. He also hopes the move will save his marriage.. but moving cannot help him shake his demons... his failing relationship and his doubts of past loves. When Jo leaves on business Conrad is left to fend for himslef, find his place in the house, in this town but there are other plans larger than his, darker powers at work which will not let him be.

An easy read set in a rural welsh village. Coralie has moved from the city to escape her past, whilst Gethin is back from New York to face his history and say good bye to Pemorfa. Village life engulfs them both, the good and the bad, activism, gossip and history brings them together as they realise what they mean to each other.

Well written and not as predictable as many in the chick lit genre. Stovell kept me reading with characters full of love and happiness.

This reminded me a lot of Ann Patchett's State of Wonder  in terms of style but also has the feeling of a grittier William Nicholson. It took me a long time to get into but I found myself relating to characters and Mantel's way of slowly revealing secrets of the characters through their history is both thought provoking and endearing. 

Ralph and Anna have never been conventional but when they move out to Africa to help with the mission they could not possibly have prepared themselves for what they found. The year in Africa and the trials faced here will haunt them forever, but how do you move on from the past?

With a little bit of help from the Rivers famiily and a host of magic galore DC Peter Grant is out again to find the truth and solve the death of  an American in London under suspicious circumstances. 

Aaronovitch uses the metropolis as an extra character in this series of stories to brilliant effect. A riveting read, would have liked to have seen more of Nightingale and the gang of The Folly but looking forward to the next in the series already.

This was my wild card of the month which was a bit of a flop in my opinion. The premise was interesting and thought provoking.. a romance for the 21st century - Marie falls in love with current events blog writer Jeff Brennan so when she meets him in person a relationship is fast formed. What she doesn't know is that he virtual Jeff Brennan and the Jeff she has moved in with are completely different people. 

There are 5 different voices through out the novel, physical Jeff, virtual Jeff, Marie, physical Jeff's grandfather and his best friend. I found the different voices confusing, and the layers of plot didn't interlock as smoothly as they could but props to the author for tackling such a contemporary subject which is very rarely explored for all it's importance in today's world.

A very different kind of book for me and I thoroughly enjoyed it! Fans of The Thick of It will enjoy Nobbs' satire of the modern world and his take on those with all the power. Our "hero" like all brilliant protagonists is horribly flawed but I can't help liking him as he explores his newly found humanity. He realises that he seems to love his children and care for his wife... by this point we may as well say that all is lost! 

 This has been sitting on my book shelf for at least 18 months and so I selfishly put it on my reading group programme and I'm so glad I did!

The Outcast is Lewis Aldridge - as a young boy he is witness to his mother's tragic demise, an event which affects the rest of his life. Part of a family that does not know how to be a family in a village where appearances can be deceiving Lewis will do anything to feel human, anything to not be alone, anything to find the love he cannot have at home... a stunning debut novel.

When Kendra moves back to England from Australia she leaves a turbulent past behind to be confronted with a new problem. Becoming an inadvertent nanny to her new landlord's children, she is embraced by the whole family.. not as happy as you may think she'd be by this turn of events. Kendra tries to strike a balance in her new life whilst trying to fight her own demons and come to terms with what happened in the past.

 A zombie story with a twist.... R is a zombie but when he meets Julie, things start to change. As they get to know each other and share their stories, R is changing, memories are returning, life could be getting back to normal but the boneys don't think that way. 

It's so nice to read a zombie story with an original perspective and I thoroughly enjoyed Warm Bodies.. can't wait for another instalment.

A contemporary case for the amazing Sherlock Holmes and his trusty sidekick Doctor Watson. Reading this with the dramatisation of Benedict Cumberbatch in my mind got a bit confusing as Horowitz sets his case in Victorian Britain but he does brilliantly in capturing the essence of the main characters with cameos from Lestrade and Moriarty.

The case of The House of Silk has a slight contemporary twist which was shocking in a historical setting and although I haven't read any original Conan Doyle I felt that this focussed more on the intrepid detective and his sidekick than the case in question. Has definitely made me want to read some of the original chronicles though.

An ironic choice of book over the Valentine's week... A comical and contemporary look at women over 35 who haven't managed to find 'the one' yet. 

Amelia Lockwood is 37, has friends to die for, a high-flying job in TV but no-one to wake up. That is all going to change when she goes on a night course guaranteed to find her a man to marry before the year is out. What ensues is a plotted history of Amelia's disastrous exes who she has to track down and ask 'what went wrong?'. With a monk, an out-and out gay guy and a mental patient in her history what will Amelia's dating future bring and will she be able to handle it? 

The spell has been broken - I have found a William Nicholson book I did not fall in love with... ironic really given it's title. This is one of Nicholson's earlier offerings which left me feeling very little of anything. Bron is nearing his thirtieth birthday and has never found the woman to who he can say those three little words .. so what does he do? He writes a book about it naturally! Bron's research into love at first sight sets him on a journey with the femme fatale Flora who doesn't believe in love but he is desperate to change her mind. T

he writing is classic Nicholson but I felt that something was missing. He does ensemble novels so well and yet this one plot just didn't have any heart in it. Bron is a likeable enough character but you just feel the need to shake him and tell him to get over it... mind you haven't we all wanted to do that to one of our friends at one point or another?

 For those that like a bit of quirky with their novels... If you enjoyed the Jasper Fforde Thursday Next novels this will be right up your alley... PC Grant is coming to the end of probation and working out where to go next when he gets sent to DC Nightingale and the magic law unit... what ensues is a case of murder and magic, gods, goddesses, ghosts all in the setting of the multicultural capital... slow to start but picked up pace and now I can't wait for the next instalment!

 Moon Over Soho picks up with the story of our lovable bobby on the beat DC Peter Grant. The story literally begins a couple months after the events of Rivers of London and Peter is still learning the magical craft from Nightingale but it doesn't stop him from investigating the murders of the jazzmen of Soho... not a normal serial killer by any means. The joy in these books is the simplicity of plot movement, there is always something going on and we see much more to Peter than just the copper!

The first of The City trilogy... an adult novel from Darren Shan. Capac gets off the train in the city to begin the gangster life he's always been dreaming of... his Uncle Theo starts to show him the ropes but when he is gunned down in front of Capac everything changes... the only person that matters in the city is The Cardinal and Capac is on his way to meet him!

As Capac fins his way in the city with his new mentor not everything is quite as it seems... violent, gritty and magical at times this will keep you wanting more!

After reading Howard's End is on the Landing I felt the need to read this story but I found myself getting lost very easily.

 Mayor follows the Rector's Daughter Mary and her life in Deadmayne. She lives a life of servitude and duty whilst everyone around her finds happiness... A unique writing style but I doubt I'll be diving in again any time soon

 "Echoing Tess of the D'urbevilles"... the dust jacket is incribed with and I can see the comparison.

Mary is a fifteen year old farm girl in 1830... the youngest of 4 daughters to a vicious father and a complacent mother she is sent to live and work with the local vicar and his sickly wife.Outspoken Mary does not fit into domestic life but the vicar's wife finds her entertaining and indispensible as she grows ill. The vicar finds her in need of help and teaches her to read and write but things are not all as they seem... anyone who reads the classics or has read Tess will be able to tell how this ends but with the unusual style of writing and the unique voice this is a gem to read

Simple, thoughtful and brutally honest. I enjoyed Nicholson's teen series The Wind on Fire and thought I'd try his adult offering.. I'm really glad I did.

An ensemble novel you may get confused by all the characters but it doesn't matter, the writing is so pure you can't help but sympathise with each character and share their secrets, hoping for their happiness or just some clarity.

Nicholson is one of my favourite writers.. he never seems to disappoint! He seems to be able to capture life in such a realistic light that you want to know these people... help them with their problems.. you support them, root for them, in some cases want to slap them! The Golden Hour follows four different couples living in the same village and the trials and tribulations of an average week for these seemingly normal people.. all stereotypes are blown out of the water and I wonder what they're up to now. 

The sequel to the intensity of everyday life picks up with the residents of Edenfield 8 years on from the happenings of the previous novel.
Familiar characters have new dilemmas, younger characters have grown older and in most cases more precocious... but they're all looking for the elusive emotion of love.

Any Nicholson story is a treat for me and gobbled this one down in less than a week... easily readable with rounded characters and real live dialogue... simple and life affirming and perfect for a winter's evening curling up with a glass of vino!

 One of my favourite authors of all time. I was so excited when I found he had a new book. This story focuses on the significance of time and how it affects everything we do as humans. Such a large subject is handled deftly through the stories of three individuals; 17yr old Sarah, terminally ill Victor and Dor the inventor of Time. Albom's words are contagious, you can't stop reading and I'm still thinking about it now. Beautifully written and happily devoured

 The 2012 Orange prize Winner.. a debut by Miller focusing on the life time relationship of Achilles and all Ancient Greek history the Gods aren't quiet for long and we follow the twists and turns of a unique relationship in the time of the siege of Troy... written in a easier style not losing the poetry of Ancient Greek tradition... easily read with a balance of action and emotion to keep you reading

A stunning emotional debut by Laura Harrington... Alice Bliss and her family are thrown into unknown territory when her father is called up to fight in Afghanistan. When he leaves the family try to carry on as normal but cracks start to appear almost immediately... an already fraught relationship between Alice and her mother doesn't get any better, boundaries shift, life changes and 15yr old Alice is just trying to keep up

I read Engelby a few years a go which is a very twisted novel and I've always meant to go back to Faulks... Charlotte Gray seemed like an obvious choice and easier as I knew the story due to the film... little did I know it's completely different! Charlotte is an independent young woman ahead of her time in many ways who wants to help in the War effort. She is snapped up by G unit and sent to France in a matter of months where the truths of War unfold and Charlotte learns what it is she's fighting for.... Love is ever present as a purpose for her actions and we follow many characters through their individual battles.

A hard slog but I'm glad I made it through... characters
made by Faulks will haunt you for years after

A wonderfully seductive and easy read with the complicated lives of a small group of friends Amber, Greg, Jen and Matt. With a group of close friends who have known each other for years they are always going to be secrets, old and new. The chocolate run embeds us into Amber's life as she traverses life, love and the brilliant relaxing qualities of chocolate in a modern world. An easy read w

This has been on my list of books to read for a while and I don't think I'd say I enjoyed it but I am glad I read it... put me in mind of John O'Farrell's May Contain Nuts. Nadia doesn't like her father's new wife but the trials and eccentricities they face bring their family closer together. For better or worse who can say!

An amazing debut novel from S.J. Watson... this story will keep you thinking a long time after you close the book. When you lose your memory of the last 20 years every time you fall asleep it's hard to know who to trust and what to believe.. an endearing story of a vulnerable soul and her journey to find out the truth about her life.

This story is beautifully atmospheric and haunting but I'm left with more questions than answers.. was he a ghost? Was she a ghost? Did the greatcoat hold some magical/spiritual power? How much did the landlady know? This is a book that has as many interpretations as readers but thoroughly worth thinking about!

When Kit finds something in the water over by Cottle Bridge he doesn't realise that the past will come back to life... with the help of his new friend Jenny he learns the history of the Fen Runners and uncovers a mystery of his own... an easy read, moves along at a good pace, perfect for a Winter's evening.

Another jaunt into someone's else's perspective of Austen... although I didn't agree with Tennant's portrayal of Lizzie (she made her a bit whispy and clingy for my liking) it was nice to be able to read another story with these familiar characters... don't think I'd pick it up again though.

This is an epistolary novel, set after the Second World War... Juliet is a writer without a subject, when a chance encounter throws her into a new way of life finding friends and new reason for living she embraces it whole heartedly. Beautifully paced and a joy to read.. couldn't stop smiling the entire time... A shame it will not be repeated.

This was a recommended read and I wasn't very sure going in to it - it is far different from anything I've ever read but the story engrossed me. Ann Patchett's way of getting beneath a character's skin intrigued me and as we follow Marina into the Amazon jungle we may learn things about ourselves as well as those we find there.

This is a bit of an odd ball pick to me and I still quite work out whether I enjoyed it... mind you it's not the kind of book you should necessarily enjoy. 

The story follows three different characters and those around them from the start of an incident through to it's conclusions and consequences... it is fraught with emotion and detail whilst each character struggles to find their way back to some sort of a humanity and ponder the question on the cover... What Cost Heroism?

I adored Emma Donoghue's previous novel Room and so was excited to read her next offering... I found this one harder to get into - a bit of a cross between a Sarah Waters and Joanne Harris novel - rooted in Victorian London and highlighting the many roles of women at this time with the movement for equal rights taking off providing a back drop to a passionate affair and the consequences on the people involved and society as a whole.

I always get excited when Haddon has a new book out but I found this disappointing! It's a mammoth task to write a book with 8 different perspectives and I don't think he quite manages it, I found it difficult to tell who I was with at times as you follow an estranged family sharing a holiday in Wales after the death of a loved one... each character has their own journey, their own battles and struggles trying to find where they fit into the family. On the whole the problems are dealt with well but with a few less characters this could have been spectacular.

I don't usually read award winners but found myself warming to this tale of Tony Webster whilst he plays out his life living the consequences of his actions as a boy... An educational and thought provoking story.

This was recommended to me by a colleague and I'm very glad it was... I never really ventured into adult zombie books but this is a good start... very high paced you meet a lot of characters for a few minutes but feel like you've known them forever, it is a testament to David Moody that those characters stay with you long after the final page has been turned.

Any Austen fan is going to have fun with this book... Mr and Mrs Darcy are happily married six years on from the end of Pride and Prejudice until the Wickhams' come to town and as expected bring trouble with them... James writes this in a way which keeps true to Austen's original characters and develops them into everything we expect. 

Anyone who likes a good murder mystery will enjoy this and Austen fans will pick up on treats too!

Finished this a couple of days ago and I still don't really know what to think... the quote from Zadie Smith on the cover says laugh a minute... I didn't get that and in fact didn't really start enjoying it until the last third. The Humorist aka Benjamin White takes us through his life dissecting humour along the way to find out why he has never laughed... and there the strangeness begins! Good luck!

An amazingly thought provoking story with one liners that will stay with you long after you've finished the book. Eddie has had a humdrum life but as he dies and is made to look back he realises just how much of an effect you have on those around you without realising.

This can be seen as along the same lines as Split Second - a situation seen from may different perspectives. A child murderer and the resulting consequences on his family and the family of his solicitor. The question is not innocent or guilty but at what cost do you follow principles and how far are you willing to go to protect those you love

No comments:

Post a Comment