When several people whom I know and like and have similar taste in books to me start raving about a book, it is never long before I make it my mission...moreWhen several people whom I know and like and have similar taste in books to me start raving about a book, it is never long before I make it my mission to get my paws on a copy and that’s exactly what happened with The Likeness. Once I had my squeeky new copy at home, I thought I’d just have a flick through the first few pages and before I knew it I had read all 700 pages in 3 days. It is one of my favourite reads this year!
The story is narrated by Cassie Maddox, a Detective in Dublin’s Domestic Violence Unit. She is called out to the scene of a crime in a derelict cottage in the countryside early one morning where a young lady has been stabbed to death. It doesn’t take Cassie long to work out why she, personally, has been summoned – the dead girl is the spitting image of herself. Not only that, but the girl is ID’d as one Lexie Maddison which is the invented name that Cassie had been given several years ago on an undercover job. The girl, by the looks of all the evidence that is presented to the team, has been living as Lexie Maddison for the last 3 years in Dublin and nobody knows where she came from or who she really is.
Lexie had been living in an old manor house in the village where she was found for just 6 months with 4 of her student friends (one of whom had inherited the house from his deceased uncle). After considerable prersuasion Casssie agrees to become part of a plan to infiltrate the manor house and out the killer. By telling the 4 house-mates that Lexie didn’t die that night, Cassie then spends the next week preparing for her new role by watching videos of the 5 housemates together, learning all about Lexie’s life, mannerisms, and her friends and then she is ready to step into her new life…….
I was on the edge of my seat wondering if Cassie could pull it off and if one of the housemates had anything to do with her death or whether it is someone from Lexie’s unknown past come back to find her, or even someone thinking that they had murdered the original Lexie (from Cassie’s undercover role). One thing is for sure though: the housemates are hiding something.
I just loved this book, I found that I couldn’t and put it down, nor did I want to. Despite the size of the book, I never once felt like it was too long; on the contrary I could have gone on reading for several hundred more. I became like Cassie – so engrossed in Lexie’s life that I felt like I knew the housemates and was living there with them. I love a god thriller, but this felt like more than that to me – it is a pyschoogical thriller and even had shades of The Secret History by Donna Tartt (which is one of my all-time favourite books) or Red Leaves by Paulina Simons (another great college thriller).
The characters in this book are brilliantly drawn: Detective Frank Mackey (Cassie’s undercover boss) is perfect for his role (and I have heard that French’s next book Faithful Place will be narrated by him which I am excited about) as are the characters of the housemates (posh, lying around listening to classical music and reading 18th century poets for relaxation).
This book has turned out to be one of my absolute favourites of the year so far and I intend to dive into In The Woods (the first book) and Faithful Place very soon. If Tana French grabs my attention in these books as much as she has done in The Likeness then she is on her way to becoming one of my favourite authors! (less)
I finished this book 2 days ago, after having my head buried in it for 4 days and I just can't stop thinking about it. It is the most wonderful book a...moreI finished this book 2 days ago, after having my head buried in it for 4 days and I just can't stop thinking about it. It is the most wonderful book and has shot straight into my Top 5 of all time.
From the very first page I was hooked. Jiang Rong creates such a vivid and compelling narrative that I found myself similtaniously gripped with the story yet trying to slow down and savour every word, so beautiful was each sentence.
Wolf Totem is semi-autobiographical and Jiang's passion for the Mongolian grasslands shines through on every page. The description of the grasslands themselves, the wildlife, the lifestyle and survival was stunning. So few books make me believe that I am there at the actual place, but with this book I was there on horseback, hiding from wolves, fleeing for my life, braving blizzards and building campfires. I smiled, I cried, I hoped and I silently pleaded all within the space of an hour. I also fell in love with wild Mongolian wolves. To get to know them was a pleasure - they are clever, cunning, brave, brilliant and I loved following their story (from both sides - the good and the bad). The Little Wolf that was captured and raised by humans both endeared me and broke my heart.
While this book is most certainly a tale of the grasslands of the last 10,000 years and what happens when modern living creeps in, it is also a book about so much more. I can't praise this enough; I am sad that it has ended as I could have read on for another 500 pages. What a beautiful book, one I highly recommend and one I will be reading again and again. (less)
"I'm Henry VIII, I am, I'm Henry VIII I am, I am!"
Wow! There's never a dull moment with old Henry. Teenage King, always warring with France, cuts ti...more "I'm Henry VIII, I am, I'm Henry VIII I am, I am!"
Wow! There's never a dull moment with old Henry. Teenage King, always warring with France, cuts ties with Rome and changes the course of history just so he can get a divorce, six wives - two have their heads lopped off, one dies in childbirth, one is too ugly, one won't provide him with a son (tsk! what was she thinking?) and the other gets to mop up his gangrenous leg until he dies. Phew!!!
This is a fabulous book: long, but so worth it. Written from Henry's point of view so we get to see his life as he sees it. We all know what a bad-tempered tyrant he was supposed to have been, but in this book we get a glimpse at what may have made Henry make the decisions he made. He was born into royalty, taught to believe that he is above others (and boy, does he!) but we also see another side to him. There are times when I actually felt sorry for him; to be surrounded all your life by "yes-men" and never really knowing who you can trust must have been pretty tough even if you are surrounded by jewels and banquets all day long.
Not surprisingly, his poor wives come in for a pretty raw deal; but again it is written from Henry's point of view. Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard never stood a chance and Katherine of Aragon was treated appallingly in later life when the King decided that he wanted to move on to a younger model. No wonder when it came to searching for a new wife 4th time around, all the eligable young European princesses were hiding in the shadows.
This is a real tome of a book and one I enjoyed immensley. The fact that it took the author 15 years to research, I knew I was in safe hands with getting a wonderful peice of fiction based entirely on fact. I would highly recommend this to history fans. Big thumbs up for this one!(less)
I read this yesterday in a day - I just found it impossible to put down. Although it's bleak I found it to be written in a gentle, almost dream-like w...moreI read this yesterday in a day - I just found it impossible to put down. Although it's bleak I found it to be written in a gentle, almost dream-like way which I loved.
The story is of a man and his son (whose names we never learn) who are travelling south during the harsh winter. They set off along the road with their cart and all their worldly belongings in it. We never find out the reason that the road and the fields and whole cities are burnt and abandoned; we are left the imagine for ourselves if it is due to war, asteroid etc.
I didn't feel that the reason they were there was important - whatever had happened was years ago and clearly they had got past the "why?" etc and were just focused on survival. The books was like a snapshot in time which is why we never really find out anything other than what is going on right then.
The relationship between the man and boy is beautiful and so tender. It's one of the most touching and important relationships I can remember reading about.
I really loved this book and hope you will too. (less)
5 stars is not enough. This book is amazing, incredible, breathtaking. Once I started it 2 days ago I have barely been able to put it down. This book...more5 stars is not enough. This book is amazing, incredible, breathtaking. Once I started it 2 days ago I have barely been able to put it down. This book has just earned a place in my top 5 ever books and deservedly so.
I admit to being concerned that I would find it difficult to overcome the lack of punctuation, but for commas and fullstops, and the lack of names (characters are referred to in such ways as the girl with dark glasses, the boy with the squint etc) but not only was it very easy to get used to this it actually added to the story. The fact that there were such long sentences and few paragraphs meant that the book drew me in as if I was "there" and it also means that you have a devil of a time putting it down! It's genius. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVED IT!!!!
I am a latecomer to Jane Eyre and I am now wondering what the hell took me so long. This book is amazing from start to finish and I foun...moreWow! Just wow!
I am a latecomer to Jane Eyre and I am now wondering what the hell took me so long. This book is amazing from start to finish and I found myself thinking about it whenever I couldn't get to it to carry on reading.
Jane Eyre is a fantastic character and I had more than a few laugh-out-loud moments with her. My favourite being when the school governer tell her she is naughty and asks how she can stop being burned in the pits of hell to which she replies "I must keep in good health, and not die." Genius!
The story of Jane Eyre spans over a decade and we follow her from her first home as an orphan in her rich relatives home where they treat her as an outcast, through boarding school for orphan girls and on to work as a governess where she meets Mr Rochester.
The whole books is beautifully written and engaging and I never once found a dull moment.
This is one book that I will be going back to again and again, I'm sure, and it has gone straight into my top 5 of all time.(less)
I finished this book this afternoon after trying to drag out the ending as long as possible. I did not want to leave these characters behind; I wanted...moreI finished this book this afternoon after trying to drag out the ending as long as possible. I did not want to leave these characters behind; I wanted to continue on their journey with them, make sure they were OK – I miss them already.
I have been hearing about this book and have read lots of positive reviews for the longest time but sometimes I get put off by books that have so much hype around them and end up passing them by. Oh how glad I am that I didn’t do this with The Help. It is worth every glowing review, every recommendation and every superlative ever written about it.
The book is set in Jackson, Mississippi in 1962 and is narrated by three women in turn. Aibileen and Minny are black maids and Miss Skeeter is a white college graduate who mourns the disappearance of her old maid and wants to do something more with her life than marry a local boy and have her kids raised by maids.
The story takes us with these women as the embark on a dangerous journey to try and change decades of prejudice and pave the way for a better life for the next generations. Through the words of each of these women we learn how rife racism and intolerance was back in the 1960′s deep south. There are tales of unbelievable cruelty and humiliation but also tales of tenderness and real love. It was so good to hear a story told primarily from the point of view of the black maids too and refreshing to hear both sides in all its rawness; the distrust and even hatred on both sides. The book also successfully managed to avoid being sensational or over-egging the pudding. Despite the subject matter (which is so important) the book never feels too heavy or preachy: it is as light as one of Minny’s famous caramel cakes and aswell as riotously funny and tender.
I implore you to read this book – you will fall in love with Aibileen, roar with laughter at Minny and rootfor Miss Skeeter for 450 pages. And I guarantee that Miss Hilly is one of the best bitches you will come across in any book! She is truly awful but so brilliantly drawn and you will root for her to get her just desserts (pun intended ☺).
I feel like I have lost friends now I have finished this book. It is a true gem and I highly, highly recommend. (less)
I have just this minute finished this book and I can already tell that it will be one of those books that I will think about often. It's not a book wh...moreI have just this minute finished this book and I can already tell that it will be one of those books that I will think about often. It's not a book whose plot I can easily explain, or a book that I can easily fit into a particular genre on my shelves, but my God did it pack a powerful punch. I have hardly been able to put it down between sittings.
The books is narrated via a letter from Balram Halwai, a slum-dweller-turned-driver-turned-murderer-turned-entrepreneur, to the Chinese President before the latters' trip to India and it is here that we follow Balram on an amazing journey through his life (I say "amazing" but undoubtedly typical of many in India). Although the slums of India and the government / police etc curruption is nothing I haven't come across before in books or films I still found myself shocked on almost a page-by-page basis. I liked the fact that there was no real hero in this book. There are no winners in a society like this.
This book is engrossing, shocking, humbling and eye-opening but it is narrated in such a way that there were laugh-out-load moments too. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I feel a little sad now it has come to an end. I will be watching for more of Adiga's work in the future.(less)
This is the second Wyndham book I have read in as many weeks and I can now firmly say that I am a fan.
This is a fantastic book; it intrugues from the...moreThis is the second Wyndham book I have read in as many weeks and I can now firmly say that I am a fan.
This is a fantastic book; it intrugues from the very first page and doesn't let go from there on in. What a great story this was and despite being about the unbelievable, it's actually very believable. Great idea, well written and gripping.
I had seen this in book shops for months and had picked it up and put it down again so many times that I finally decided to give it ago based on so ma...moreI had seen this in book shops for months and had picked it up and put it down again so many times that I finally decided to give it ago based on so many positive reviews I had seen. I'm so glad I did. For the 3 days it took me to read it I was immersed in the life of a young German girl during World War 2 and although the book prepares the reader almost from the beginning for what is going to happen I wasn't prepared for the ending to pack such an emotional punch.
The book itself is narrated by Death (not the Grim Reaper image that most of us have, but a figure who roams the world collecting the souls of the newly departed and gently taking them away with him.) Death tells the story of Liesel, a young girl who has been placed with foster parents in a poor part of Munich and we follow her story throughout the war. We are told from the start that most of the characters we meet will die but because we spend so long with them and become so involved in their lives, it doesn't make it any less shocking by the end of the book.
This book is brilliant in the way that it manages to avoid the gory detials of war but involves us in the day to day lives of some of those who lived through it. It is so important that we never forget what happened during that time and that there were so many wonderful, selfless people out there that were prepared to help others.
I highly recommend this book and I'm sure it is one that will stay with me for a long time. (less)
This is a beautifully written, well researched, off-beat love story about a young man called Jacob who (having been suddenly orphaned at the age of 22...moreThis is a beautifully written, well researched, off-beat love story about a young man called Jacob who (having been suddenly orphaned at the age of 22 while at university and in the age of the depression in America) finds himself, quite unexpectidley, working for a circus. Here we are treated to a feast of colourful (many rather unsavoury) characters (with dwarfes, bearded ladies and a whole host of animals). This is a love story not only between Jacob and Marlena (a married woman whom he loves from afar) but also between Jacob and his animals, imparticular an elephant named Rosie whom I also fell in love with.
The story flits between Jacob as an old man in a nursing home (where a circus comes to town which brings back all his memories) and Jacob in the 1930's during his circus years. This is a wonderfully written, engrosing, captivating novel and I felt lost when I had finished it; I truly had wothdrawal symptoms.
I highly recommend this book and I hope you enjoy as much as I did. (less)
I picked this book up as part of a 3 for 2 offer in a bookshop when I had already chosen my first two and was in a rush - I didn't even read the blurb...moreI picked this book up as part of a 3 for 2 offer in a bookshop when I had already chosen my first two and was in a rush - I didn't even read the blurb on the back, I just vaguely remembered someone telling me how good it was.
What an absolute treat then to find that this ended up being the best of the lot - infact I can honestly say that I haven't enjoyed a book so much in a long time (and I read alot). From the very first paragraph I knew I was going to enjoy Behind the Scenes at the Museum; this book made me laugh and cry. The characters were all so real that I was desperate to know more about them, and I just love the way that the book jumps from present day to another time in the past of this strange but wonderfully fascinating family.
The story starts with the conception of Ruby Lennox in a drunken fumble with her parents in their House Above the Shop in York. Ruby narrates even before her birth and sets the scene with her family - a very disfunctional one at that. The second chapter then goes back in time to Ruby's Great-Grandmother, Alice and her 5 children and from here on in we flit back and forth between Ruby's life and those of her ancestors. All the characters in this book are so 3 dimensional it made me greedy to find out more about them and I found myself thinking about them even when I wasn't reading at the time.
I'm so glad I picked this book up and I am now desperate to read Kate Atkinson's other books. I just LOVED, LOVED, LOVED this book and can't recommend it highly enough.
I completely fell in love with this book in the one sitting it took me to read it (because I just couldn't put it down).
This is the story 2 young gir...moreI completely fell in love with this book in the one sitting it took me to read it (because I just couldn't put it down).
This is the story 2 young girls, Kitty and Esme, growing up in the 20's and 30's in first colonial India and then in Edinbugh when their parents move back home. They are sisters who share everything and love each other very much yet one is the dutiful, polite, home-maker type and the the other is the slightly rebellious younger sister who wants to stay on at shcool rather than marry a nice boy. After a series of events (which include trying on her Mothers clothes of all things!) and a shocking incident that happens to her, Esme (the younger sister) is sent to a lunatic assylum and dissowned by her own family and where she remains for the next 61 years.
Inbetween this story told by Esme and also Kitty (whom now has altzheimers) we also flit between the past and the present with Kitty's Grandaugter, Iris, who also narrates her story. The way O'Farrell has woven the 3 women's voices so intricately together to reveal only parts of the story at a time is just amazing and also serves to keep you turning those pages well into the night. The story is so beautiflly told and the twists and surprises mean that you can't possibly put it down even for a minute.
I don't really know what I expected of this book, but I certainly wasn't prepared to be so blown away by it. I have never read anything else by this author, but I certainly will be after this. I really do highly recommend this book and hope you enjoy as mucy as I did.(less)
What a fantastic book. This, for me, was one of those rare books that you can't put down but don't want to end. Having just finnished it this morning...moreWhat a fantastic book. This, for me, was one of those rare books that you can't put down but don't want to end. Having just finnished it this morning I am already at a loss. I have read many books on China and this ranks among the best for me.
This is the story of Peter Hessler, an American student, who takes up an English teaching post in a remote town called Fuling where the River Wu meets the Yangtze. Fuling becomes his home for the next two years and here we are treated to a feast of Chinese life in a town where they are very unused to "waiguoren" (foreigners). We go through the many highs and lows with him and we meet a collection of fantastic characters along the way. To view this town and its people through waiguoren eyes is fascinating and a real eye opener.
Having been to China only once on holiday (to satisfy my enthusiasm) I am left feeling that spending all my time in Beijing and Shanaghai is abit of a cop out and I am now left with a real urge to travel deeper into this wonderful country and expore some more. This book has certainly given me a taste for that.
I highly recommend this book. I found it a real page turner. Enjoy. (less)