Monday, 25 April 2016

Book Review: The Versions of Us by Laura Barnett

The Versions of UsThe Versions of Us by Laura Barnett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

My friend recommended this book a while ago and for a long time it's been sitting on my shelf. The concept of this book really grabbed me, the idea that one decision can alter the rest of your life. I often wonder what would have happened if I'd stayed in East Sussex or gone to university at the same time as my friends.
The story (or rather, stories) centre around Eva and Jim. Who meet, or don't meet, in the 1950's. One specific incident is the pin point for the three versions of their life which are each engrossing and enthralling from the get-go. What was interesting to me was despite some events happening in one or two of the version, occasionally, one incident would occur in all three, demonstrating that despite the utter randomness of life, some things cannot be altered.
Eva is headstrong, likeable and a woman well beyond her years for the time period of this novel. Reading her trying to find the balance between home life and career is interesting and makes me thinks about the decisions I will have to take in the future.
Jim on the other hand, I was less fond of. Originally I warmed to him, but as the book continued I grew to dislike him more and more. He was selfish and had trouble keeping it in his pants. Even if this reunited him with Eva, I didn't particularly approve of the methods in which he got there.
The story covers quite a span of time and I didn't find this a problem. At the beginning of each chapter I had to double check what version we were on, especially as we drew further and further away from that initial moment. There were also lots of side characters that didn't need naming. I would have been perfectly happy with 'so and so's business partner' as opposed to another name I had to file away in my head. Keeping track of all the children was also a difficulty, especially as all their names began with similar letters.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book and I look forward to reading more of Laura Barnett's work. It is worth a read, just for it's sheer originality and the questions it gives the reader as it passes through their lifespan.

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Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Book Review: The Bones of You by Debbie Howells

The Bones of YouThe Bones of You by Debbie Howells
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was a random purchase at Brighton Train Station when I finished my other book early. The Bones of You is about a teenage girl that goes missing and all the secrets that surround her family and life.
I really enjoyed the pace of this book. From the start I was hooked and I couldn't wait to find out the young girl's fate. As always, no character appears as they seem and the secrets are revealed thick and fast with twists and turns aplenty. I also enjoyed the two sides of the story. We are taken back through Rosie's life to certain events that all link to her disappearance.
To a point I liked Kate, the main character, a local gardener and good friend to Rosie's mum, Jo. She is interesting and her curiosity propels the story along. However, as with most crime fiction, that does not feature a detective, the lead character can come across as nosy. Half of the time I wanted to shout at her to mind her own business. Plus some of the things she did made me roll my eyes more than once.
Overall, a decent thriller with an interesting concept, however I worked out who the culprit was before the very end and that always disappoints me.

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Saturday, 9 April 2016

Book Review: A Year of Marvellous Ways by Sarah Winman

A Year of Marvellous WaysA Year of Marvellous Ways by Sarah Winman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Sarah Winman is one of my favourite authors and I absolutely adored her first novel, so I waited to purchase this with anticipation. Unfortunately it was not as I expected.
Firstly, this novel is beautifully written. The writing is poetic and the characters jump off the page. The author's attention to detail is brilliant. I really liked the character of Francis Drake and the events that happened in his life were the most interesting for me.
But in some ways, it's good points are what made it so boring for me. The author uses ten words when one would do. The descriptions are far too flowery and distract from the story, although what the story is I couldn't tell you because NOTHING HAPPENED!!! It was just lots of flouncy vocabulary and tragic events that really amounted to nothing. I'm giving this three stars because I really like Winman and I hope the next novel she produces has the warmth and humour of her first.

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Monday, 4 April 2016

Book Review: A Night in with Marilyn Monroe by Lucy Holliday (Libby Lomax #2)

A Night in with Marilyn Monroe (Libby Lomax, #2)A Night in with Marilyn Monroe by Lucy Holliday
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I could not wait to get started on the second Libby Lomax novel! A Night in with Marilyn Monroe follows Libby throughout the highs and lows in her life, but this time, she is ably assisted by Marilyn Monroe.
As I am more familiar with Marilyn Monroe than I am Audrey Hepburn it was easier for me to picture her in my head. Lucy Holliday creates her character beautifully and the reader feels sorry for the troubled actress. Libby is more likeable in this book (although no less oblivious) and I still feel that the author tends to go overboard. A situation that would be really funny, then becomes ridiculous and unrealistic. I sympathised with many of Libby's thoughts and feelings, although she does have some flaws. But then, the character wouldn't be so relate-able if she didn't.
It took me just four days to tear through this book, I really couldn't put it down and I cannot wait for the next in the series.

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Friday, 1 April 2016

Book Review: Zodiac: The Shocking True Story of America's Most Elusive Serial Killer: The Shocking True Story of America's Most Bizarre Mass Murderer by Robert Graysmith

Zodiac: The Shocking True Story of America's Most Elusive Serial Killer: The Shocking True Story of America's Most Bizarre Mass MurdererZodiac: The Shocking True Story of America's Most Elusive Serial Killer: The Shocking True Story of America's Most Bizarre Mass Murderer by Robert Graysmith
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I'd seen the film before I read the book, which I think helped enormously. I love reading but I did struggle with this.
First of all, the good points. Graysmith writes in a way that is not dissimilar to a novel, he describes scenes well and there is frequent use of speech. It's not just 'he said, she said'. Also the detail is incredible. Many of the Zodiac Killer's letters are reproduced in the book and I found that really fascinating.
However, in some cases, the detail was overwhelming. We are told names and dates of absolutely everybody and that's hard to keep track of. In some cases, the information can be delivered quite dryly, although perhaps this should be expected in a factual book. I do appreciate that Graysmith was actually involved in the case at the time and it is clear how passionate he is about the case and finding the criminal. Serial killers have always been a fascinating area of interest for me and this case will be in my thoughts for a long time.

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