An account of a British POW, held in a labour camp near Auschwitz. Admittedly I thought the focus of the book would be far more heavily focused on Aus...moreAn account of a British POW, held in a labour camp near Auschwitz. Admittedly I thought the focus of the book would be far more heavily focused on Auschwitz itself, and initially reading through a fairly hefty amount of pages on Denis' previous life made me wonder how the book would progress.
However after finishing the book, having the entire story and context really bought the memoir to the point where you felt the emotion and content hit home. Even now, I struggle to believe that such inhumane acts could possibly have happened. A stark reminder of how awful World War II was - not only for the millions of Jewish people that perished, but also for the thousands of POW occupants across Europe that after this book, I feel have had little recognition until late about the traumas they experienced. Each had their own battle, and this story highlighted that.
Without spoiling the book, the last parts of the book were an uncomfortable yet humbling reminder of why we should remember this event. If not a wonderful way of ending the novel - I say this not out of "liking" the end, but I felt it was a very fortunate and fitting way of piecing together the story that Denis recalls. This book really pushes you to consider that all the people involved were individuals, with stories and struggles that should never have had to be re-told. (less)
Surprisingly, I found this book to be quite hard going in places. The content wasn't difficult to understand, but some sections of the book seemed to...moreSurprisingly, I found this book to be quite hard going in places. The content wasn't difficult to understand, but some sections of the book seemed to be slow and too reliant on ploughing through some unnecessary back stories. I don't think the writing style helped either, as it wasn't something I wanted to read in one sitting - was definitely a book I had to pick up and put back down again on numerous occasions.
Once the main plot started to get going, it was enjoyable. Felt that at times it dragged on too long in places for the inevitable unravelling of the main plot. I don't think I really warmed to any of the characters - there was a lot of detail and back story, but nothing as a reader that made the characters "real". The last section of the book in particular surprised me, as I personally felt it was quite a disappointing way to round up the last "book".
I liked it, but I'm not entirely sure I'd want to read it again.(less)
Considering I bought this book on a bit of a whim, it was quite a decent read. The narrative was light and easy going, with enough humour and drama to...moreConsidering I bought this book on a bit of a whim, it was quite a decent read. The narrative was light and easy going, with enough humour and drama to keep me reading. The characters were interesting - if not slightly unrealistic. But however hard I tried, I found it practically impossible to properly warm to any of the characters as none of them struck me as entirely likeable (but I suspect that's due to the fact that I didn't find them believable enough).
I also thought the ending and certain parts of the plot with Nora were wrapped up far too conveniently, and again, unrealistically. The ending was disappointing and felt rushed, which was a shame as I think a better ending would have definitely improved my view on the book.
Overall, an enjoyable read - probably wouldn't read again in a hurry, but worth a look.(less)
I'd seen the film previously and loved it, and luckily the book followed suit. The book definitely allowed me to see more of Marcus' character, which...moreI'd seen the film previously and loved it, and luckily the book followed suit. The book definitely allowed me to see more of Marcus' character, which was something I thought the film lacked in places. He became a "real" character, and the way he questionned the issues surrounding his Mother seemed far more powerful. Will was a character I loved to hate, the way he viewed different types of women as "easy targets" made me want to punch him in the face, as did his elaborate lies. I'm also a bit surprised that Rachel seemingly didn't run a mile in the other direction after the truth came out, but maybe that's just me!
The subject matter was thought provoking, and Rachel's views about "the point" made me feel angry and sad at the same time. Probably because the "ideal" view doesn't match reality. For such a heavy subject matter, I thought the plot was handled well - it struck a balance which allowed it to become a fairly steady read. Definitely one to read!(less)
Was given this book by a friend, and I'd never heard of it before. It was only when I noticed the trailers for the film (although I didn't watch them...moreWas given this book by a friend, and I'd never heard of it before. It was only when I noticed the trailers for the film (although I didn't watch them as I didn't want to spoil the book!) that I began to read it.
It's been a long time since I've read a book that for the first 70 pages or so, I had no idea what was going on. But not in the bad kind of way where I couldn't understand what was written - purely in a "where is this story going!" way. Yet to give credit to the book, I didn't get bored or fed up as I might usually with an ambigious plot. I kept reading as I just had to know what was behind the thorough back-history we were being given, and the book had enough "teasers" to keep you following the story.
Overall I really liked it. It was touching, yet haunting. The concept bothered me by making me uncomfortable thinking about it, and was definitely worse having followed the story through and connected with the characters on an emotional level. Interesting idea. (less)
The version of the book I had contained the stories of "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button", "Bernice Bobs Her Hair" and "The Diamond as Big as the R...moreThe version of the book I had contained the stories of "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button", "Bernice Bobs Her Hair" and "The Diamond as Big as the Ritz".
I wasn't bowled over by any of the stories particularly, but they were a nice easy read all the same. They were quirky and interesting enough to stand up on their merits, but I felt they could have been developed a little more. I also don't think I was overly taken with the writing style, as there was something I felt slightly detached from - I couldn't feel myself connecting with the style of writing.
But as I said, still a nice easy read - good for something if you have a spare hour but don't want anything too heavy to read.(less)
For me, We Are All Made of Glue was the best book I've read by Marina Lewycka so far. The plot seemed to have more depth and character, intertwined wi...moreFor me, We Are All Made of Glue was the best book I've read by Marina Lewycka so far. The plot seemed to have more depth and character, intertwined with mystery and amusement. Mrs Shapiro was wonderfully eccentric and had every characteristic of the crazy cat lady, yet was still fascinatingly endearing. The cultural and religious events in this book interested me (and educated me in places), stirring up some thought provoking questions about the issue of homelands and the motive of our actions. (less)
This book has been on my shelf for years and I've only just got around to reading it. Having seen the film perviously I knew what to expect loosely co...moreThis book has been on my shelf for years and I've only just got around to reading it. Having seen the film perviously I knew what to expect loosely content wise, and wondered how true it stayed to the book. Fairly true on the whole. The read was definitely more uncomfortable for me than the film - but I put that down to the limitation of what they could actually film and show from extreme events, so reading it made it that bit more uneasy.
The language used took me a chapter or so to pick up, but after that it wasn't a problem. If anything any "real" non-teenage talk suddenly sounded alien.
Alex is a character I loved to hate. He was so disgusting in his hobbies, and when vulnerable I still couldn't empathise with him - but there was something compelling about his character. There was something about the ending that didn't quite sit right with me, it seemed to round it up in a way that I didn't feel was realistic to his persona.
Overall an interesting read, and an interesting take on dystopian life.(less)
Alone in Berlin is based on the real life events of Otto and Elise Hampel, individual resistance fighters against the Nazi reign. The characters of Ot...moreAlone in Berlin is based on the real life events of Otto and Elise Hampel, individual resistance fighters against the Nazi reign. The characters of Otto and Anna are based on Otto and Elise and whilst the story is fictional, many of the elements you find out from the afterword are based on real happenings.
I was struck by how psychological the book was - the fear, paranoia and constant vigilance of everyday German citizens is felt strongly with the introduction and viewpoint of each character. I've read other books about life in Germany in WWII, but this book made me realise that I'd forgotten how life wasn't smooth under the Nazi reign in Germany for the German citizens. It was interesting to see another take on life in Berlin, but it chilled me quite a lot.
Although the nature of the SS and Nazi police sectors is known to me through history lessons and other books, there was something still quite shocking reading the way they liked to play about with their suspects and prisoners - many of which were the characters in this book incidentally. Their suspects didn't stand a chance under questionning and couldn't win either way - they were either forced to admit what they knew or forced to sign incorrect confessions.
The courage of Otto and Anna during all of this was remarkable, and their act of resistance was commendable but frightening - every time a new postcard was dropped, you felt the panic of the character to hope they hadn't been seen. As a two person unit they stood up for their beliefs and morals and it was refreshing to see that not all German people believed the word of the Fuhrer and his ideologies.
The plot also involves acts of kindness from other characters, which warms the book and restores some faith in how bad life had got. But at the same time other acts of desperation from characters such as Emil Borkhausen and Enno Kluge changes your view again. There's so much happening in the book with different plots (which all come together) that you go through different emotions and reflections.
This was translated from the original German text, but is still incredibly well written. The short chapters marking new viewpoints and timescales work well, and it's clear what is happening at each point in the story.
The book was a gripping read - I didn't want to put the book down as I wanted to know what happened next to the characters I'd become attached to. I had a version with the Afterword and original documents for Otto and Elise in the back, both are worth a read. If anything it makes it harder to believe that any of this can be "real" in the modern world.(less)
As a follow up to A Short History, this was a decent book. The story followed a mis-matched group of immigrants from the Ukraine, Poland, Malawi and C...moreAs a follow up to A Short History, this was a decent book. The story followed a mis-matched group of immigrants from the Ukraine, Poland, Malawi and China who came over to the UK to work - their work initially taking the form of strawberry picking.
As their work progresses they hit a number of problems and scenarios with foreign gangsters, and the book follows them through this and travels with them on their own little journeys. The main characters are all fairly strong personalities, and on the whole, quite likeable. The plot is amusing and warm, but also shows insight into the horrible jobs that some immigrants are forced to take to earn money. The chicken farm/factory chapter made me feel a bit ill reading it with the cruelty the animals suffered, but such observations bought the book away from just being an easy amusing tale.
The relationship between Irina and Andriy I found to be a little odd. Culturally I think their relationship would be slightly different anyway, but I couldn't help but find their relationship to be slightly far-fetched and unbelievable - I just didn't feel that the pairing was right and didn't see a spark between the characters. They seemed quite detached in their own ways.
Overall the book was quite enjoyable - loved the character of Dog too!(less)
This is the first Jodi Picoult book I've read. It was recommended to me by friends and family, but it took me a long time to bring myself to pick it u...moreThis is the first Jodi Picoult book I've read. It was recommended to me by friends and family, but it took me a long time to bring myself to pick it up to read - the synopsis of the book didn't appeal to me at first.
After reading the book, I decided I liked it. I didn't love it but at the same time didn't dislike it. It's one of those books I'm glad I've read but probably wouldn't read again in the future.
The character of Sara I found hard to like. In all honesty, I found her to be selfish and cold and struggled with the concept of her parenting. It wasn't until the trial itself that I began to warm to her minutely, but that was because it was possibly the only point where I felt reason to empathise with her - I could see reasons why I could possibly empathise with her earlier on, but only felt that I should empathise with her at this point.
I tried at several points to imagine what I'd do in the same scenario, and it was hard. The perspectives from all characters involved made it an interesting read, and showed the way such a horrific predicament can affect a family in different ways. There was no easy or clear "right or wrong" answer to what any of them should do, and morally and ethically it raised some interesting debates.
Kate, Anna and Jesse were strong in their own ways and I enjoyed the way they'd been portrayed - I thought it was lovely to see Kate being able to experience some brief normality to her life through meeting Taylor, and I found those parts of the book to be quite touching in a way I couldn't quite put my finger on. Anna too was refreshingly straight with her feelings - she clearly loved Kate but was also tired of the constant demands placed upon her, and yearning for a normal teenage life.
The ending was almost cruel in a sense - another blow for the parents, and an unexpected one at that. It was a shame that it was the way the story had to end, but it did make me think about the way life can take it's unexpected turns - life is too short sometimes.
Overall it was an interesting read, just occasionally a bit long winded and repetitive. But touching and thought provoking all the same.