Book Review: Oh Dear Silvia by Dawn French

Firstly, I have to say that I love Dawn French. I grew up watching comedies on the old Beeb starring Dawn, and I have very fond memories of those times.

This is the first book I have encountered of hers, but thanks to some googling and wikipedia, I discovered that she has written more.

So, on to the book review, and I am afraid that it will be short. I read this book because I wanted something light to read. I think it was in a half term holiday or something so I had time off from work and didn’t want to delve into anything deep. Well, it was definitely a light read, and I do remember laughing.

The trouble is, that is all I can remember. I remember finding the book funny at some points, but I remember practically nothing about the story. I have tried reading the blurb to try and jog my memory – but still nothing.

So to conclude, it is a light read, and is occasionally funny, it’s just not memorable. I would only recommend this if you were looking for something seriously light, it’s a book to pass time with but not much more than that.

2.5/5

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Book Review: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

gone-girlSpoiler Alert: You’ve probably already read this, but just in case you haven’t, there will be spoilers in this review. Gone Girl was one of those books that was so hyped up last year that you kind of had to read it just to be involved in the ‘book hype’ of 2013.

Firstly, I have Gone Girl and Gillian Flynn to thank for me exploring the genre of contemporary thriller, and since reading Gone Girl I have read two more of Flynn’s novels: Sharp Objects and Dark Places, both of which I thought were really good.

Gone Girl is the story of Nick and Amy, a pair of really unpredictable and unreliable narrators. Nick is quite pathetic as a person, and lies to the reader on several occasions, including hiding his affair with Andie from us. And Amy, well she’s as manipulative as they come, she manipulates us and she manipulated many of the other characters in the novel.

Amy attempts at first to frame Nick for her murder, and is almost getting away with it until she starts to think she’ll be recognised. Then she decides to frame Desi for her kidnapping and murders him. Her story is ultimately believed by all but her less than adoring husband. If only he was sensible enough to see that she had psychopathic issues before marrying her…

One aspect of Gone Girl that I found interesting, and troubling, was the fact that you can never really know a person completely. I’m sure that myself and my other half know each other very well, at least, we know a lot of things about each other – lots of facts that add up to make our impression of a person – but can we ever really know what goes on in another person’s mind? Gone Girl says no, and underlines that ‘no’ many times.

It’s definitely a captivating read, and will keep you going. However, I thought the ending let it down. It just didn’t satisfy me. I couldn’t bring myself to imagine that anyone would stay in that kind of situation, which is what makes me think that Nick is pathetic. Also, Amy’s last words highlight that she is delusional and makes me think of a young manipulative pre teen trying to play grown up. She seems to delude herself into thinking that all will be forgiven because she is pregnant – that just screams immaturity to me.

Oh and at the end of this year the film adaptation will be released, apparently with Ben Affleck and Neil Patrick Harris. Im intrigued to see how it will be adapted for screen.

Admittedly I liked Gillian Flynn’s other work much more than I liked this, but still, not bad.

3.5/5

Book Review: Before I Go To Sleep by S J Watson

beforeigotosleepThis is another one that I read a few months ago. A few months ago I had a lot more time for reading, as my Uni course had not yet started. So most of my reviews now have come from that indescribable period of a few months ago.

I read this book following a few recommendations from people who I generally associate with varying genres. This made me think, if so many varied readers like this book, I should really give it a go.

I have to say that I was not disappointed. In my most humble of opinions, Before I Go To Sleep is a well written suspense novel. It manages to get the cogs of one’s brain whirring without placing too much stress in the analysis of reading. It is a nice easy read, with a captivating storyline.

I found that the premise enticed me. I liked the idea of having the story told from the perspective of a really unreliable narrator. This unreliable narrator was our only gateway into the story, and therefore everything that she believed, the reader is led to believe. This makes the narrative even more interesting, and somewhat personal.

I love that this book highlights the importance of memory and of perception. It manages to give a little bit of an insight into how memory plays such a big role in our lives. If you know anyone who suffers from any memory loss (i.e. Alzheimer’s), it will really help you to imagine what they are going through.

In terms of the story, I loved the twists and turns. I was certainly not expecting the ending to turn out the way it did, but I’m glad that it did. This is one of the best debut novels that I have read in a while.

I would recommend this book to most readers.

4/5

Book Review: And The Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini

51PBblV4b4LI awaited this book in anticipation, and actually read it months ago when it first came out. I am definitely a fan of Khaled Hosseini’s writing, having previously loved The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns. As you can imagine, thanks to my eagerness to acquire this book, I ended up reading it within two days.

Essentially, it is the story of two siblings, a brother and sister, who were unwittingly torn apart, and their journeys into adulthood, the families that they create and the coming together of those families.

Like Hosseini’s other work, the basis of the story is a tale of the horrors that Afghanis have had to endure in recent history – the drastic measures that had to be taken in order to survive.

Without giving too much away, it is another beautiful piece of work by Hosseini. I do have to say, though, that this novel did not have quite the emotional effect on me as his previous work did (whilst reading both The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns I was almost constantly in tears). However, I find it impossible to pinpoint the reason for that. It could be that this book did not give quite as big of an emotional punch in the stomach, or that my emotional state has solidified since first discovering his work 10 years ago.

Nonetheless, this is an amazing read, and I would definitely recommend it.

4.5/5

Book Review: The Casual Vacancy by J K Rowling

imagesI read this somewhat sceptically, in fact I put it off for quite a while because I was so sceptical. I grew up reading Harry Potter, from the age of about 10, so the magic was really a part of my childhood. Then, to find that J K Rowling had written a book for adults, about something seemingly so normal – there was just something about that which didn’t sit right with me.

So finally, a little while ago, I walked into a bookshop and picked it up, and I am oh so glad that I did. The casual vacancy is set in a small town in the UK, and is essentially a story of small town life. What struck me though, were the darker undertones of politics and social issues resonating in the story. I have to admit that at first it does take a while to get into the book, and it does take a bit of perseverance. However, once the story gets rolling and you get to know the characters, it is unputdownable.

In the West Country, the small town of Pagford is turned upside down after the death of parish councillor Barry Fairbrother. The book follows the lives of the community as they discover and deal with Barry’s death, including the controversy of filling his spot on the parish council. The Casual vacancy highlights the huge effect that a death can have on a community, and the revelations that come about after a person’s death.

It would be hard to explain what I liked about this books without giving the story away, but I can say that the story of Krystal Weedon and her family is so extremely heartbreaking, and so believable, especially in the UK as it is now, and I did towards the end of the book find myself in tears. This book is as good as Harry Potter, just completely and utterly different. I strongly suggest you give it a read.

4.5/5

I have returned

Like Sherlock Holmes making a surprise re entry after the Reichenbach Falls, I have returned. I have had great fun making cakes, which I am still doing, although not as intensely. I have recently returned to University, studying English Literature with the OU, and thought it was about time I returned to my great love of all things literary.

I’m glad to be back.

Book Review: House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz

The_House_of_Silk

I have just suddenly realised I haven’t done a book review in almost a month. Not to say I haven’t been reading, I’ve just failed to share my opinions on what I’ve read.

So I purchased and read the new Sherlock Holmes novel. As some of you may know, I’m rather a large fan of Holmes and all that goes with him, and I will start this by saying that, surprisingly, the book didn’t disappoint me.

I’ll try not to give any spoilers as I do truly recommend this book as a good read. For those of you who are familiar with the work if Conan Doyle, don’t expect this to feel exactly the same. Horowitz is true to the character and spirit of Holmes, but it doesn’t quite feel as though you are genuinely reading an original book, there is a sense of replication to it.

The story, on the other hand, is quite unique, and intriguing. It should manage to keep you engaged, as it did me, and will keep you on your toes. Like any good Sherlock Holmes book, or TV adaptation, you can almost predict the ending but you are never quite certain until it is confirmed, and Horowitz picked up on this by dropping vague clues throughout the book that could lead to a few possible and foreseeable scenarios – but this was good, it made me want to read on, to see if I had come to the correct conclusion.

One of the best Sherlock Holmes adaptations that I’ve encountered in a while.

4/5

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