I was about 50 pages into this book when a girl sitting opposite me on the tube asked if I was enjoying it. She was maybe fifteen or sixteen and seeme...moreI was about 50 pages into this book when a girl sitting opposite me on the tube asked if I was enjoying it. She was maybe fifteen or sixteen and seemed sweet, so I let her read the first chapter - and the first chapter is a doozy, a real hook you in starter - to see if she liked it. Reading on through the book later though, I felt guilty that I had recommended it to her as this book is full of bad thoughts, worse behaviour and blood and guts and gore. I was reading this sort of stuff at sixteen, too, but she said that she'd really enjoyed Twilight and so I'm not sure whether she's ready for the King. Oops.
Anyway: this is the story all about how a whole town's life got flipped, turned upside down when a massive invisible (but no less tough for that) dome appears out of nowhere along the town's exact borders. And the book is incredible. All the gushing blurbs on the back talk about how it never drops its pace and I agree: it doesn't. It's fast and it's strong and I never wanted to put it down.
I personally think that this book is the best book he's written in recent years (although I also really enjoyed Black House; when did he write that?) but it's really interesting to me how many people here hated it, especially in the comments. It's a monster of a book and I wouldn't recommend it to just anyone but if you love Stephen King and already know you have a head (and a stomach) for his epically destructive, gory and heart-wrenching masterpieces, then go right ahead. I want you to read this and I want you to feel how I did: that even though it was 1100 pages, I could have kept reading.
P.S. I've just finished this for the second time. Bumping it up a star and adding it to my all-time favourites right this second, yo. I love this book!(less)
Reading this after having read his other, more famous, graphic novel Ghost World and it's sarcastic, funny and honest story about a pair of directionl...moreReading this after having read his other, more famous, graphic novel Ghost World and it's sarcastic, funny and honest story about a pair of directionless teenagers, I was completely unprepared for the dream-like (perhaps nightmare like would be more accurate) surrealist world of Like a Velvet Glove Cast in Iron. I'm all for a little surrealism but I cannot take this much, quite simply. After reading the novel I had no idea what it was that I'd just read, had no clue regarding how all its seemingly disparate parts linked together and consequently, had absolutely no idea what to make of it.
This novel was just not suited to me in any way, but if you like David Lynch films and graphic novels and do not except any kind of coherent plot, then I wish you luck with it. The thing is that I just do not think that there is any secret or hidden meaning to this work: I think it's just mindless abstract drivel. And that's annoying.(less)
When a book is written without any speech marks - or indeed, any indication such as italics or line breaks or anything at all - it's sometimes confusi...moreWhen a book is written without any speech marks - or indeed, any indication such as italics or line breaks or anything at all - it's sometimes confusing as to what it speech and what is thought especially when, as in Something Might Happen, the lead character is keeping secrets from her family. This was probably my biggest problem with this novel (and I see from other reviews here that I'm not alone!)
I didn't actively dislike this book but I thought I would like it more than I did. Opening with the aftermath of a grisly murder is less awkward/creepy here than you might think, but it doesn't have the effect of endearing you to those left failing around in the wake of the tragedy like I think it was supposed to. I'm not sure I actually liked any of the characters in this book at all - apart from the children, I suppose.
From the title, I had the idea that, err, something might happen - that is, something that isn't the opening murder. So when it does come - right at the end - I was less than shocked, especially as I feel the whole novel gradually sets you up for it. But I wasn't moved by it, nor by the characters reactions. This novel is supposed to touch the reader and it did not touch me, not at all. (less)
**spoiler alert** This review is full of spoilers; please bear that in mind.
In my mind, although the novel itself is divided differently, this is a bo...more**spoiler alert** This review is full of spoilers; please bear that in mind.
In my mind, although the novel itself is divided differently, this is a book of two halves: the affair and the consequences.
Just before the turn of the 20th century, 15 year old Olympia falls in love with 40 year old John Haskell when they meet one summer at her parents ex-convent house on Fortune's Rocks. The romance and love that follows is the strongest part of the book, focusing closely on Olympia and her struggles against doing something she believes in her heart to be right, but be unwilling to hurt Haskell's wife, Catherine, whom she much admires. (There are several beautifully written passages in this section and I found the letters that the lovers wrote to each other to be particularly sweet.) However, the affair is discovered at a gala held for Olympia's sixteenth birthday, when a repulsive man leads Catherine to view the lovers through a telescope, Olympia's birthday present.
The discovery and the scandal of this all-consuming affair leads to Olympia's "ruination" and banishment following her giving birth to a little boy who is taken from her. After she escapes her confinement (a job she is given after her time at a girls seminary), she makes her way back to Fortune's Rocks, to live "where she was once happy." A family friend lets slip that her child is nearby and she instigates legal action to return him to her. Her lawyer makes it clear he has feelings for her, but Olympia remains in love with Haskell, who turns up at her house unexpectedly the night before the final hearing. The judge rules in her favour, but after watching her son cling to his foster mother, she decides she cannot be the one to split them up and changes her mind, canceling the petition and fleeing the courthouse.
The one problem I do have with Anita Shreve -- and indeed, with a lot of writers like this, like Alice Hoffman or Jodi Picoult -- is the need to neatly sum everything up in the end. Olympia and John turn the ex-convent into a home for unmarried mothers and live happily ever after. Although they cannot have children of their own (a result of Olympia's pregnancy so young) their lives are completed when her child's foster mother dies and he is returned to her. It is a bit cloying, how everything just works out so hunky-dory, but then again, I'm come to expect that from this kind of contemporary women's fiction. A happy ending is better after some strife to get there at least, no?
I wasn't sure at all that I would like Anita Shreve, but I found this book mostly charming - especially the first section covering the affair itself. I've just bought another couple of hers in a charity shop (although, sadly not the other books set in the same house) and am looking forward to working my way through them.(less)
**spoiler alert** Dear Reader: This review contains spoilers. Consider yourself warned, my dear.
I love Sarah Waters. After reading Tipping the Velvet...more**spoiler alert** Dear Reader: This review contains spoilers. Consider yourself warned, my dear.
I love Sarah Waters. After reading Tipping the Velvet three times in as many months, I've been working my way through the rest of her novels. While none of her other novels have captured the same strength of feeling that I feel for Tipping the Velvet, The Little Stranger was my first real disappointment from her (although I admit that I'm yet to read Affinity.)
This pseudo-ghost story is irritating, slow-moving and just not written as well as I expect from her. The story, which is set in 1947 and focuses on Hundreds Hall, a mansion, and the family that live there - an aging woman and her two grown-up children, all struggling to keep the house in condition - is told from the eyes of GP Dr Faraday, who soons becomes a family friend. Essentially this is a ghost story, as weird things start happening in the Hall, including fires, accidents and general spooky goings-on.
It's not that it's a terrible book: it's just that nothing really happens. Sure, some tension is built, but there is no satisfying resolution to the book. Who is the ghost? Is it the spirit of Susan, the child who died before the other two children were born? Is there a ghost at all, or is everyone just going crazy? is the Little Stranger the ghost, or it it Dr. Faraday himself, who struggles with the difference in social class between himself and his new friends? What is Dr. Faraday's first name? Why are there no real answers?
Don't bother with this one. And definitely do not read it first: try her novels Fingersmith or The Night Watch to begin with. They are both great introductions to her usual punchy and enchanting style - and it means you'll still have Tipping the Velvet (definitely the best!) to work up to.(less)
**spoiler alert** So lately I've noticed that these hype books fall into three categories: those I read and hated (and felt justified hating because I...more**spoiler alert** So lately I've noticed that these hype books fall into three categories: those I read and hated (and felt justified hating because I hate the hype), those I read and surprsingly liked (and sometimes resented myself a bit for liking because, again, I hate the hype) and those that I will never read. (Yes, I can be a book snob. I am dealing with it.) The Abortionists Daughter falls into the first group, although now that I'm done I wish I'd had the sense to put it in the third group.
It was recommended by daytime television hosts and everyone read it and now, that category of everyone also includes me. But this book sucks. It's boring. The characters are silly. A woman dies at the beginning but I knew who did it - the end is hardly a reveal. There is no twist. There is little point. The daughter had naked photos of her put on the internet but she's an idiot and I didn't care. (The bits about abortion were actually really interesting, though.)
But, having had a little whine about it, I must add that this is not a terrible book. It doesn't make me want to tear it up and burn the pages or write reams of slander on the internet about it. It's just painfully mediocre. I just wanted to say that it sucks and now I think I'm ready to move on with my life.
(A side note: For a minute in the library when I was debating whether or not to borrow it I thought I'd read it before but that was something else: - The Memory Keeper's Daughter. That's not actually all that great either, but it's a lot better. Read that one instead.) (less)
This morning I re-read this story about the highs and lows and highs again of the life of little Sara Crewe and I was pleasantly surprised to find it...moreThis morning I re-read this story about the highs and lows and highs again of the life of little Sara Crewe and I was pleasantly surprised to find it as charming a story as I had remembered. The difference between this novel about a 'princess' and today's novel are the things that are valued, both in Sara's personal attributes and in the things precious to her: kindness, loyalty and intelligence rather than beauty, popularity or wealth.
Sara is not a princess, but she has been raised like one. Her rich father, who adores her, has provided her with everything she has ever wanted but Sara, who is a solemn and intelligent little girl, has not let this spoil her. She is taken from her home in India to a school in England where she is treated as their show pupil, until word reaches England of Sara's fathers death, alone and dissolute. Sara, who has no other relations, is set to work in the school as a maid but manages to do so with good grace, always imagining herself as a princess and acting as she believes a princess should act. Sara is not doomed to a life of servitude, however: her father's best friend does find her with her fortune, in a curious roundabout way, but Sara does not forget those who were loyal to her when she was poor.
Perhaps Sara is too good to be true - she reminds me of Beth from Little Women - but her good attributes ultimately save her. This book remains, 105 years after it was written, a good moral story for young girls who too dream of being princesses. (less)
If someone forced me to choose my favourite book of all time - and I mean really forced, because the idea of choosing just one is really horrible (I'd...moreIf someone forced me to choose my favourite book of all time - and I mean really forced, because the idea of choosing just one is really horrible (I'd need a top 30 AT LEAST) - I think I would chose this book.
I find it hard to describe how much this book means to me but these small, heart-warming and utterly charming stories of Sophia, her grandmother and her father on their very own island for a summer are just perfect. Perfect. I would not change a single thing about this. Tove Jansson has created something truly amazing here.
I must have read this book ten times, at least. I'm very grateful to the person who bought it for me and in turn, I have bought it for people I love. It's the perfect book to bring a little summer to my life any time of year. I love The Summer Book and I honestly wouldn't want to be without it. (less)
This is one of my all time ever favourite books. I must have bought it at least four times, because I have this terrible tendency to give it away to a...moreThis is one of my all time ever favourite books. I must have bought it at least four times, because I have this terrible tendency to give it away to amazing people that I think will appreciate it. In fact, right now there are two copies on my bookshelf sitting next to each other because I couldn't resist buying it in the library (for twenty pence!) just in preparation for when I meet someone else who really should read this. In fact, thinking about it, I think I know who my second copy should go to.
Anyway: the book itself is incredible. It's a hyper-modern, hyper-real, hyper-active whirlwind of drugs, music and glimpses into our strangely discordant future. Set in Manchester (of course!), Noon's stories, poems and intricate word-play are all incredibly inventive and innovative. He crams more ideas into some of his stories than you find in other writers entire novels. These modern day fairytales are often bleak but are always enthralling.
I would recommended someone new to Jeff Noon to start with these short stories. I do enjoy his books too, but for me these short stories are his pinnacle. (less)
As The Time Traveler's Wife came fully armed with a huge amount of hype, I was not expecting to enjoy this book anywhere near as much as I did - and a...moreAs The Time Traveler's Wife came fully armed with a huge amount of hype, I was not expecting to enjoy this book anywhere near as much as I did - and as much as I do, as this is one of the books I seem to obsessively re-read.
Often when a book is touted as amazing everywhere else, I find it boring, unoriginal or dumbed down: such as The Lovely Bones, for instance. I was surprised though as The Time Traveler's Wife was original, engaging and quite astonishingly beautiful. It's also quite astonishingly painful, too but the sadness is surrounded by so much tender love that in my opinion, at least, this book really is a work of art.
The Time Traveler's Wife is one of my favourite books of all time and I don't doubt for a second that I'll read the story of Clare and Henry another half a dozen times. (I do not feel the same about her awful second book Her Fearful Symmetry, however - but that's a rant for a different review page!)(less)
I'm not going to introduce this book because chances are you've read it/you've seen the film/you never want to touch it with a bargepole. So, look: th...moreI'm not going to introduce this book because chances are you've read it/you've seen the film/you never want to touch it with a bargepole. So, look: this is not a masterpiece, but it's kind of an enjoyable romp, as long as you don't mind some bad writing more fitting of a screenplay than a book. (I see you had one eye on the movie rights all along, huh, Mr Brown?)
I'm not a book snob - I will read anything - although, I admit, I have a tendency to avoid massively hyped books (The Lovely Bones, The Five People You Meet in Heaven, this!) until much later because, honestly, I don't usually enjoy them all that much. Because this has been SO hyped, I was expecting it to be incredibly terrible and it wasn't. It was just badly written with an interesting and intriguing plot.
My friend did just say to me "I hated how it was all, 'I'm worried,' he thought, worriedly" and she does have a point but my expectations were so incredibly low that it managed to succeed them anyway! (I suppose this is a good thing but it doesn't feel like it, exactly.) I also hated how the book referred exclusively to men throughout by their surname and women by their first name, but I can't explain exactly why I find this so annoying.
Also, I did so wish that they didn't get together at the end. Sigh. Such a big fat old cliche.(less)
I bought this book for 50 pence while I was taking advantage of a massive charity shop book sale and decided that, as it would be easy-going and (hope...moreI bought this book for 50 pence while I was taking advantage of a massive charity shop book sale and decided that, as it would be easy-going and (hopefully) kind of entertaining, that I'd take it with me on a weekend with a lot of traveling. I actually read less than I thought I would but I still managed to finish this - and yes, it was easy-going and yes, I found it quite entertaining. (Embarrassing to read it in public, though. I was convinced everyone was thinking that I was a complete moron.)
It's a Dan Brown thriller so, of course, lots of people die in religious and art history ways. There are codes to solve and bad guys to find and helicopters to ride and there's even a jar of antimatter. ANTIMATTER. It's insane.
One thing I will say in this novels favour: I much, MUCH preferred it to The Da Vinci Code. One thing I really hated was all the many uncomfortable moments where a fizzle of electricity/burst of deeper feelings/unexplicable connectedness/blah blah blah happens between our hero and our plucky heroine (for this book, at least.) Gag, honestly. Get a room.
In all honesty I still don't know why I'm reading these but I guess that this wasn't a complete waste of my time.(less)
1) More potty mouth than I was expecting. (Even the C word.) 2) Blimey, the main dude has women throwing themselves at him! 3) 5/10. It was fin...moreIn brief:
1) More potty mouth than I was expecting. (Even the C word.) 2) Blimey, the main dude has women throwing themselves at him! 3) 5/10. It was fine but only fine. I don't get the hype.
I am so funny with hype books. Some I just fold my arms against and shake my head, refusing all the while to read them and then some I think 'Oh, go on then!' and leap into. I don't know why these Millenium novels fell into the latter group rather than the former where, quite possibly, they might turn out deserving of being.
Anyway. They were cheap; I bought them, I read the first one in a sick day. It was alright. Seriously, it was fine. I like the several plot strands, I was happy with the outcome and I don't mind the characters, although I can't say I care about any of them really - and no, not even Lisbeth, who I really do not think is the most amazingly inventive character over or anything, even though apparently all the reviews of this book seem to think she is. She just sounds like a regular old Camden goer to me.
Also: WHOA ALL THE SEX. Not like graphic sex but just loads - Blomkvist gets more than his fair share, I think. I've just started the second book and there's even more. Blimey, I'm such a prude.
I can't say I massively enjoyed this but I will definitely read the other two too (well, I bought them all. Might as well.) I'm definitely holding out hope that they'll improve, though.(less)
When this book was recommended to me on Visual Bookshelf on Facebook, I at first thought that it had been tailored to me from my previously read books...moreWhen this book was recommended to me on Visual Bookshelf on Facebook, I at first thought that it had been tailored to me from my previously read books, as these include some chick lit and a whole bunch of Young Adult stuff that is one of my greatest guilty pleasures. However, I see from other reviews on there that that was not the case (and I wonder if that was a mistake.)
The thing is - Loser/Queen was a great gimmick. The voting to decide what happens in the next part (although I only remembered to vote once) was an interesting concept, although people are predictably pretty timid and tended to pick the nicest of the options available. The online novel hasn't exactly left off at a cliff-hanger of an ending but there are still lots of unresolved issues so that I think people will want to buy the actual physical copy to see what happens in the end. But was this a success? I only ever saw a couple of comments on any of the sections of the novel, whereas I thought the young girls that this is aimed at would have been more effusive.
This is what it is: a YA book about a 'loser' who, with the help of a mystery benefactor, does a series of deeds to become 'queen' of the school. It's entertaining and sweet in places and occasionally funny. As YA books go, it is not bad. But the lack of TARGETED advertising for it means that many of the people who come here will be negative, because a young adult book aimed at girls was forced upon them. And that's actually kind of a shame.(less)
I met up with my friend Thos lately and he'd come armed with this book for me to borrow, bless him. He's my book friend, I think. Anyway, he'd previou...moreI met up with my friend Thos lately and he'd come armed with this book for me to borrow, bless him. He's my book friend, I think. Anyway, he'd previously loaned me George Saunders' In Persuasion Nation and The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil, both of which I enjoyed very much, but I think all in all I prefer CivilWarLand in Bad Decline.
It's a bizarre book, honestly. I don't want to live in any of the worlds he creates (especially not the horrible world of the novellas, rife with slaves and prostitutes and orphans) but those worlds are somehow completely invigorating and addictive. His characters are freaks, both in a traditional sense and a more colloquial one but this doesn't mean that they are unlikeable.
There's something just fantastic about George Saunders. I think it's his voice: I'm yet to come across another author who writes quite like him. I think a lot of people would find this depressing. It's true that his leads (I'm not going to say heroes because that word definitely feels all wrong) can feel like the same role over and over, but it's a specific type of weirdo that I love and it adds rather than detracts from his very singular tone.
I'm going to read it again before I give it back.(less)
I read a lot of books like this: feminine, relationship and family based contemporary fiction. It's usually written by women and it's rarely this good...moreI read a lot of books like this: feminine, relationship and family based contemporary fiction. It's usually written by women and it's rarely this good. This book was a summer read picked by Richard and Judy, which makes me want to gag a little bit on my a) predictability and b) snobbishness , but try to ignore that fact. (After all, Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides, one of my very favourite books ever, was chosen by Oprah. Still, though. Richard and Judy? Sigh.)
Anyway. This is the (fictional) story of the world's oldest craniopagus (joined at the head) conjoined twins Rose and Ruby, who are almost 30. Written (mostly) by wannabe writer Rose, she is trying to tell the life story of the sisters before they die. Adopted at birth by Stash and Lovonia Darlen, a nurse who falls in love with the twins after helping deliver them, the girls grew up loved and loving and this love follows them throughout the book, creating strong characters and development.
It's hard to be empathetic to their unique situation because it is just beyond my wildest imaginings. Interestingly, despite what a lot of people would view as their disability, Lori Lansens (when writing as Rose) has an almost blasé take on the subject that makes you see the twins as separate people with very separate personalities and stops you feeling sympathetic for them. (Well. You are still sympathetic but there is less shameful pity, I think.) Lansen's writing is such that you have real feelings for the girls themselves, especially Rose, without descending into pity.
It's a charming story and definitely worth a read. And I fell it love with it even more the second time I read it.(less)
Moral dilemmas! Court cases! Family strife! Hi, welcome to another Jodi Picoult book. This one is about a child with brittle bone disease and if you'v...moreMoral dilemmas! Court cases! Family strife! Hi, welcome to another Jodi Picoult book. This one is about a child with brittle bone disease and if you've read and enjoyed other JP books, I will recommend this to you. If you've read and hated other JP books, don't bother with this one. It won't change your mind in any way.
It's the same kind of thing: Picoult does her usual impeccably researched morality dilemma thing and if you liked it before, you'll probably like it again. Lots of her regular tropes are present here: the list to open the book (seeNineteen Minutes), the best friends battling (see The Pact), the unique child (see Keeping Faith), the good guy cop (see loads of them including Mercy and Second Glance) and the mother who'll do anything for her child (see, uh, all of them). And it's ok that these themes are all here again because if you're a fan you either don't care or have already forgiven her.
But. This one wasn't really the best. Yes, I enjoyed it and ploughed through it in milliseconds like I always do. The different voices through the chapters don't really sound any different, but it's fine. It can be really cliched at times and a little bit grating but it is all still essentiallyh fine. But what is NOT fine is the ending. I won't spoil it for you, but the last three or four pages make no sense, come from nowhere and add nothing - unless you count royally pissing me off as adding something.
I'll still read the others I haven't read, though - although, I think I've read most of them now. Oh dear.(less)
I love love love it when someone presses a book on me and it turns out to be as amazing as this one is. My best friend loaned this to me recently, say...moreI love love love it when someone presses a book on me and it turns out to be as amazing as this one is. My best friend loaned this to me recently, saying that she wouldn't recommend it to just anyone but that she thought it'd be one that I'd particularly love.
And I did. (My girl knows me well!) The Minotaur Takes a Cigarette Break is a charming and oddly heart-breaking little novel about the Minotaur and his day to day life in modern middle-America. It might sound implausible from that brief description, but Steven Sherrill writes with such conviction and matter-of-factness that you find yourself believing readily and quickly. I suppose that it is a sad book, in its way - the overall themes of loneliness and the eternal struggle for acceptance make you empathetic towards the Minotaur, but it also makes a fantasy character very human and easy to relate, too. It is a slow moving book, but in my opinion this adds to its charm. There's nothing wrong with the slowness of the writing - in fact, I think it adds to the feel of the lumbering, awkward Minotaur's life.
I was trying to think of writers to compare Sherrill to. I suppose if you enjoyed George Saunders, you would enjoy this novel, but I'm having trouble comparing to other writers. To be quite honest, I think this book might be in a league of its own.
I think most people would find this hard-work, but for a select group of people who are lucky enough to find it, it will definitely be love. (less)