“Insidious”. That is the word that sprang into my mind while reading this book. And although the blurb seems to indicate that this insidiousness only...more“Insidious”. That is the word that sprang into my mind while reading this book. And although the blurb seems to indicate that this insidiousness only becomes clear near the end of the story, it is obvious to the reader almost from the very first page.
While it may appear that this is the story about an affair between a rather foolish 40-something female teacher and a fifteen year old schoolboy, this really is a story about one older spinster becoming obsessed with a younger colleague and going to great lengths to make herself indispensable in the life of her “victim”. Even at the beginning of the story it is clear that Barbara is anything but the efficient teacher and loyal friends she sees herself as. This story is told by Barbara and even as she tells the story about Sheba’s inappropriate behaviour and its consequences, even while she tries to paint a picture of herself as a wonderful person trying to help a person she loves, it is very clear that there is something wrong with her feelings and actions. It is Barbara herself who informs the reader about “misunderstandings” between herself and other teachers. It is Barbara who tells us that a former friend accused her of being “too intense” and it is she who confesses to being jealous when Sheba appears to be getting close to another of their colleagues. Barbara’s creepiness is at its clearest when she admits to having highlighted the “important” – read “most incriminating” – parts of Sheba’s story using gold stars, with the moment she finds out about the affair warranting two stars.
A good book, but not a very nice or pleasant read. While the story fascinated me in the same way a horror movie might – I didn’t really want to watch it unfold but couldn’t look away either – it failed to capture me. It all seemed just a little bit too much to me; Sheba a little bit too infatuated and silly, Barbara a little bit too sociopathic, Richard a little bit too dim, Sheba’s mother a little bit too horrible and Steven a little bit too predatory. It felt almost as if I were reading about caricatures rather than characters. In fact, I couldn’t help feeling that this story was written in a way very similar to the sensational newspaper articles Barbara professes to despair of yet appears to have read in detail.
And yet, I couldn’t put the book down either. I had to continue reading until the very end, which wasn’t really an ending if you think about it. And I’ve got a feeling that I will be thinking about everything that might or might not happen after the story ends for quite some time. In fact, I can’t wait to discuss this book with my reading group in a few days. I’ve got a feeling opinions on this one are going to be divided and that should make for a very interesting meeting. I may not have enjoyed reading this book very much, but I am thoroughly impressed with the way in which the author managed to tell such a horrific story in what were, on first impression, very innocent terms.
“There are certain people in whom you can detect the seeds of madness – seeds that have remained dormant only because the people in question have lived relatively comfortable middle-class lives” (less)
Ruben and Cameron Wolfe are teenage brothers. When their father loses his job, the family is in financial trouble. One day Ruben is noticed when he be...moreRuben and Cameron Wolfe are teenage brothers. When their father loses his job, the family is in financial trouble. One day Ruben is noticed when he beats another boy up for insulting his sister and soon afterwards both Ruben and Cameron are offered the opportunity to take part in illegal boxing matches for money. While fighting doesn't come naturally to Cameron, the narator of the story, Ruben takes to the competition like a fish to water and appears unbeatable. But, as Cameron slowly discovers, the question is who Ruben is fighting. Is he up against his opponents, or is he really fighting himself?
This is a wonderful story about two boys/young men, growing up and coming to terms with who and what they are and discovering their place in the world. Markus Zusak, as always, does a brilliant job depicting the inner life of teenagers. Writing a moving story, without ever becoming sentimental. I loved this book especially for the way in which it showed the non-verbal communication between Ruben and Cameron. The way in which they told each other so much without ever using a lot of words, or even saying what they were really feeling. This may be a book filled with boxing and violence, two things I'm not a fan of, but underneath, and in reality this is a book about love and solidarity. This was a great reading experience for me and I rate this book a strong 4.5 stars.(less)
Lady Isabel Pelham is a 26 year old widow, happy to live the rest of her life fleeting from lover to...moreI received my copy from Penguin UK through Nudge.
Lady Isabel Pelham is a 26 year old widow, happy to live the rest of her life fleeting from lover to lover and never marrying again. When the man she loved deeply and married betrayed her in ways that broke her heart she vowed she’d never make herself that vulnerable again, and she’s determined to keep her word.
Gerard Faulkner, the Marquess of Grayson is 22 year old. The woman he loves has married somebody else, and although he enjoys his flirtations and nights with various women he is tired of being looked at as profitable marriage material.
The solution seems simple. If Grayson and Pelham were to marry they could both continue their scandalous life-style without being bothered by people wanting more than just an affair. It seems a good plan and for the first few months after their marriage it works out fine. When a personal loss hits Grayson hard he leaves London and his new wife behind for destinations unknown.
Four years later Grayson returns to London a changed man. No longer is he looking for adventure and lust. He has grown up and wants his marriage to be real instead of the sham Isabel and he agreed upon years ago. Isabel though is convinced that this can never work. Grayson is too much like her first husband; he too will get bored with her and betray her. And there is no way she could survive such a betrayal again. With Isabel determined to keep her husband as a platonic friend and their life-style unchanged, Grayson will have to convince her that he is indeed a changed man. During what is a sensuous process of seduction, Grayson slowly manages to lower the walls surrounding Isabel’s heart. But with outside forces determined to break them and their scandalous marriage up and their own painful past experiences making them cautious, the couple is going to need to rely on and trust in each other implicitly if they want to have a chance at a future.
Set in the first half of the 19th century this is a charming and very sensual historical romance; the story about a man and a woman who are made for each other but are unable to see that clearly for themselves. I liked the way the two main characters sparked together, the way in which they were able to get the worst but also the best out of each other. The dialogue between them is clever, runs smoothly and is written in such a way that it is almost possible to actually hear their voices.
The fact that the romance between these two characters is almost exclusive conducted in the bedroom may put some readers off. Having said that, while there may be a lot of, quite vividly described, intimacy in these pages, the content of this book is never shocking nor intended to be.
I guess this story and the characters in it are a bit simplistic. Characters are either wonderful and charming or horrid and selfish. And the story has a typical romance story-arc; strong lust and a reluctance to talk about the things that matter and could avoid confusion is nothing new or original. However, when those ingredients are encountered in a well written and entertaining story they tend to add to it rather than detract, and that is certainly true in this book.
I’m not quite sure why the author felt the need to include the story about Isabel’s brother Rhys and the “unsuitable” woman he falls for. Not that their story wasn’t interesting, but it didn’t add anything to the real subject of the book. In fact, I think that story-line could easily have warranted a book of its own.
Overall this is a well written, easy to read and very sensual romance; a book sure to be enjoyed by anybody who likes their historical romance a bit spicy. (less)
“When I was twelve years old God spoke to my father for the first time.”
That has to be one of the best opening lines for a...moreI rated this book 3.5 stars.
“When I was twelve years old God spoke to my father for the first time.”
That has to be one of the best opening lines for a novel I’ve ever come across. And there are more gems in this book, like the following.
“Then, my head resting on fists, I sat and listened to the end of my childhood.”
In fact, the book is written in the most beautiful language imaginable. If I were to rate the book based only on the way in which it was written I would probably give it five stars. I require a bit more from my books though. First and foremost what I want is a story that grabs me by the throat and doesn’t let me go until the very last page, or, even better, until well beyond the last page as my mind continues to spin the story that has already ended.
For me this book lacked in story. In fact I found most of this book rather frustrating. Two desperately sad and apparently unconnected story-lines meandered along, introducing heartbreaking moment after heartbreaking moment without any apparent point to them. I didn’t like the different narrative styles either. Nicholas’ story is told from his perspective but he seems to have that universal insight that only a third person omniscient narrator should have. All other characters’ stories are told from that third person perspective and work a bit better for that reason but still didn’t tell me what I really wanted to know.
This book is a wonderful example of how reading tastes change and/or are related to the reader’s mood or where they are in their lives. I remember loving this book and being really impressed with the writing when I first read it, probably round about 1998. This time around I was far less impressed. The writing seemed too elaborate, too descriptive, making the story itself move desperately slowly. I had to fight the urge to skim passages in order to get to the ‘real’ story I knew would come eventually. But then, even when that real story did come, it didn’t manage to pull me in. From the first page until the very last word I felt detached from these characters and their stories as well as wondering what I had seen in this book the first time around.
I really wish I had a review from when I first read the book. It would be nice to compare my thoughts then to my feelings now. Unfortunately I’ve got nothing except the memory of loving ‘Four Letters of Love’ at the time. All I can say now is that you will probably love this book if you adore beautiful words. If you want those beautiful words to tell you a captivating story, this book may let you down a bit. (less)
I should probably start this review by stating that I'm not a short story reader. I like my stories long, full of detail and character development. Sh...moreI should probably start this review by stating that I'm not a short story reader. I like my stories long, full of detail and character development. Short stories, regardless of who has written them or what they are about, always leave me feeling short changed.
These short stories were worse than most though. I'm not sure if that is because there wasn't any rhyme or reason to them, because I'm not Irish or because they just went way over my head. I do know that I've absolutely no idea what the author was trying to tell me in any of these stories. I only read the first five stories in this book, the stories taken from "Dance the Dance" and I have to say that by the time I had read the 36 pages they covered, I was relieved I didn't have to read on. I don't think I'll be returning to Tom Mac Intyre's writing any time soon, if ever.(less)
This book has such a cute cover and such an innocent and magical title that I was expecting a fairy-tale between the covers. Since this is a book for...moreThis book has such a cute cover and such an innocent and magical title that I was expecting a fairy-tale between the covers. Since this is a book for grown-ups I didn't think it was all going to be lovely and happy ever after, but I definitely wasn't ready for the rather horrific tale I encountered.
Melanie is 15 when her world shatters. Both her parents die in an airplane accident and she and her younger brother and sister have to go and live with their uncle, his wife and her two younger brothers. From the start it's clear that things are not right. Instead of their uncle picking them up from the train station, it is the two brothers of his wife who are waiting for them there. Irish and unclean they are like nothing Melanie is used to. When they get to the house where they will be living from now on, over their uncle's toyshop, they discover that their aunt doesn't speak and apparently hasn't spoken since the day she married. It soon turns out that their uncle is a brute who terrorises his family and lives for the toys he makes and the shows he puts on for the family with his life-size puppets. In this atmosphere of fear and deprevation, Melanie has to grow up quickly. She takes her first steps towards love, which turns out to be nothing like her fantasies and her eyes are opened to some of the more horrific realities of life. This is a situation that can only end in disaster, and so it does.
Sometimes I read a book and think that it is just not good. Other times I read a book and feel that it is probably very well written, but that it is just not for me. This is one of those books that leave me feeling as if I'm missing something. The story read as if I was looking at a picture through dirty glasses. I could see the outlines but not any depth or colour. Everything that happened, good or, mostly, bad just washed of me. I found myself indifferent to the fate of Melanie and any of the other characters. The writing in this book was too descriptive for me and seemed to lack feeling, and as a result it didn't evoke any emotions in me. I also wonder about the author's feelings about men in general. None of the men in this book seemed to have any redeeming qualities. The brutish uncle being the clearest example, but Melanie's distant brother, and the two young inlaws didn't have a lot going for them either. This is not a happy or uplifting story, and Melanie's resignation to her fate even before her 16th birthday is devastating. (less)
MacKayla (Mac) Lane is 22 years old and has a good life in Ashford, Georgia. Living with her parents, she has a job in a bar and...moreReviewed for BookGeeks
MacKayla (Mac) Lane is 22 years old and has a good life in Ashford, Georgia. Living with her parents, she has a job in a bar and studies part-time. She rarely faces more difficult decisions than what to wear today, and what colour her nails should be, with her biggest worry being that her favourite colour will be discontinued. That all changes when she receives word that her sister Alina has been murdered in Dublin, where she had been studying in Trinity College. Devastated and heartbroken Mac travels to Ireland to find out what exactly happened to her sister, and who killed her since it seems that the local police is not getting anywhere with the investigation. As soon as Mac arrives in Dublin her live changes. She finds that she is seeing monsters around her; monsters that other people don’t seem to be able to see. And it isn’t long before she discovers that she isn’t what or who she thought she was either. Mac finds herself in a world where the Fae are mixing with humans, using them before killing them. And Mac is a Sidhe-seer, one of only a few who can see and recognize the Fae for what they are. A voicemail message Alina left her, sends Mac searching for something called the Sinsar Dubh, although she has no idea what it is or why she is looking for it. When she meets Jericho Barrons they are at odds with each other from the start. But it soon becomes apparent that if Mac wants to find her answers and to stay alive she will need Barrons. And, it turns out that Mac has certain powers that are very useful for Barrons too. But with the Fae slowly invading Dublin and taking whole parts of the city literally off the map, Barrons and Mac are in constant danger.
In many ways this is yet another addition to the paranormal fiction that seems to be flooding the market at the moment. We have a heroine who is, on the surface, completely unsuited to the task she has been set, forced to work together with a dangerous and potentially untrustworthy ally who also happens to be attractive. Throw in opponents who are not from this world and can appear both monstrous and gorgeous but are deadly in both guises and you can’t help feeling that you’ve been there before. However, this is also a very enjoyable read. Mac is a mostly interesting main character and it’s nice to see her growing into something more than the super visual girl she starts of as. For me personally the fact that the story is set in Dublin added a lot to the attraction because I know the places the story was taking place in. At times the contrast between Mac’s innocence and Barrons’ selfish cynicism seemed a bit too much like a stereotype to me, but overall I got hooked into the story and found myself compulsively turning the pages, wanting to find out what would happen next. And books that come with sentences like: “I love books, by the way, way more than movies. Movies tell you what to think. A good book lets you choose a few thoughts for yourself. (…) My imagination has always topped anything a movie could come up with” can’t be all bad. I’ve got a feeling that I will probably read the sequels to this book, if only to find out where else in Ireland this story will take Mac and the reader. (less)
A Christmas present from Dermot this year. A book and author I knew nothing about when I got them. A very pleasant surprise to find it such a good and...moreA Christmas present from Dermot this year. A book and author I knew nothing about when I got them. A very pleasant surprise to find it such a good and unconventional read.(less)