Category Archives: Books

BOOK REVIEW: The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen

A while ago I got a choice of free books after buying something on Amazon. I have no idea what since I buy all the things on Amazon. I chose The Corrections because it was the only one on offer that I had not read and I had no idea what it was about before I started reading it.  Read more…

BOOK REVIEW: Don’t be a Dick, Pete by Stuart Heritage

I suppose I need to mention as a disclaimer to this review that I sort of know the author… or more that I sort of know his wife, which is why I knew the book existed. That has nothing to do with this review though as it is based completely on my experience of reading the book, which I bought and paid for. Read more…

BOOK REVIEW: Lolita by Vladimir Nabakov

Every so often, I like to pick out a so-called classic to read, to try to broaden my literary knowledge but also to decide whether I think they’re actually worth the hype e.g. a resounding yes to Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice and all the Sherlock Holmes outings… a resounding WTF to Moby Dick and flat no to Tess of the D’Ubervilles. This time I decided to go for Lolita by Vladimir Nabakov. Read more…

BOOK REVIEW: Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

It’s been quite some time since I did a book review because, let’s face it, I didn’t read any actual books for about 8 months. Since I have been back at work reading has been back on the menu as I spend about two hours a day on the train and I have managed to read a few books. Unfortunately none of them have really been interesting enough – good or bad – to motivate me to actually write something, until now.

I have had Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie on my to-read list for ages but after my friend, J, gave it a rave review, I decided to bump it up the list and I am glad I did. Read more…

BOOK REVIEW: Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin

Black Like Me was the latest choice for my book club inspired by Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin. It features a white character who passes as black. We all thought this sounded kind of far-fetched until my friend, A, remembered that she’d heard of a real life case where someone had done this. We were intrigued and decided to explore this for our next read.

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BOOK REVIEW: Possession by A.S. Byatt

Roland Mitchell is a literally scholar focused exclusively on the works of Victorian poet Roland Ash. He works for Professor Blackadder in a mostly unpaid position and lives in a mouldering flat in a miserable and distant relationship with his girlfriend, Val… not that he’d notice.

When Roland finds some of Ash’s personal papers in a reference book he is overcome by the sudden urge to take them rather than declare and catalogue them. Within these papers is an abortive letter clearly meant for a woman. After a bit of detective work, Roland comes to the suspicion that the woman in question might be Christabel La Motte, a minor poetess well loved by certain feminist researchers so he decides to get into contact with Dr Maud Bailey, a specialist on La Motte. Read more…

BOOK REVIEW: Kindred Spirits by Rainbow Rowell

I was lucky enough to receive this book as part of a giveaway that Katya over at Life and Other Disasters did in honour of World Book Day. She was kind enough to post it to me all the way from Austria so I felt like it would make a perfect next bath book. Thank you, Katya!

Elena is a massive Star Wars fan and has been her whole life so when The Force Awakens comes out she decides she wants the ultimate fan experience, which means queuing up outside her local movie theatre in the middle of winter. Elena is expecting a massive turn out but instead she ends up being third in a line of… three. The other two are Troy, an middle aged superfan with a lot of stories that he is very keen to tell and Gabe, who is the same age as Elena and much more keen to keep himself to himself. As Elena battles the cold, her desperate need to wee all the time, her limited phone battery life and her mom driving around the block every five minutes she starts to realise there might be more to Gabe than meets the eye.  Read more…

BOOK REVIEW:Invisible Monsters by Chuck Palahniuk

Most people know Chuck Palahniuk because he wrote Fight Club, which inspired one of the best films of all time (in not only my opinion it seems). Although I am a big fan of the film I haven’t actually read the book although I have read a few of his other novels, most memorably Rant. Mr O has quite a collection of Palahniuk novels knocking about since he’s one of the few fiction authors he’s actually interested in reading so when I was looking for my next bath book I decided it was time to delve back in and this was his recommendation. Read more…

BOOK REVIEW: Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin

Written by Armistead Maupin, Tales of the City was first published as a  serial in the San Francisco Chronicle and later became the first in a series of books initially published in 1976 and follows a group of inhabitants of the city and their interwoven lives. Read more…

BOOK REVIEW:Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith

By now most people know that Robert Galbraith is JK Rowling going under a pseudonym and that she has published a series of crime novels featuring the private detective Cormoran Strike. Career of Evil is the third book in that series. If anyone is wondering why I started with the third book, it’s because it was recommended by  one of my book club member’s father-in-law who assured us we didn’t need to read the first two. (He was right).

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BOOK REVIEW: Wild Swans by Jung Chang

A couple of years ago a former member of my book club suggested that we pick Jung Chang’s Wild Swans as our monthly read and so it went into the hat (actually a sunglasses case) to be drawn out and it was the winner. We were all a bit drunk though and decided that it sounded too long and complicate and so we never ended up reading it. At the time I didn’t find the premise of the true story of three generations of women growing up in China all that intriguing, not sure why, but when I found an actual physical copy of this in our abandoned book cupboard I decided to make it my “bath book”. Read more…

BOOK REVIEW: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith

In 2009 Seth Grahame-Smith came up with the cunning plan of taking one of English literature’s most loved classic novels, Pride and Prejudice and adding zombies to it. Before I even get into reviewing the product of this “scheme” I have to admit that I am not sure how I feel about the entire concept. There is a part of me that finds it appalling. First of all it takes a piece of literary brilliance and makes it into an object of fun without the original author being able to give permission, secondly it smacks of opportunistic laziness considering that the novel retains 85% of its original content.  On the other hand it is getting people back into reading classic literature and zombies are pretty cool.
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BOOK REVIEW: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

For months I have been hearing that The Girl on the Train is the next Gone Girl/Before I Go to Sleep, one of which I really liked… one of which I liked until it turned to crap. But I figured that I wanted to know what everyone was taking about so I might as well give it a go. Plus there’s going to be a movie of it later this year and you I have to have something to compare it to. Read more…

BOOK REVIEW: Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain

I love cooking shows. Especially competitive ones. Especially ones that involve Gordon Ramsay yelling at people. On one hand I love the creativity that some chefs have in coming up with dishes and flavour combinations as well as the artistry of creating a beautiful plate. On the other hand a professional kitchen seems like a fascinatingly feral place that very few diners ever get to see inside. It was this that drew me to chef/author, anthony Bourdain’s “warts and all” memoir.  Read more…

BOOK REVIEW: A Brief History of 7 Killings by Marlon James

My book club picked A Brief History of 7 Killings as our most recent featured book mostly because it won the Man Booker Prize for 2015 and it appeared to be about Bob Marley. Initially we almost immediately regretted it and I think I am one of only two of the six of us that actually finished it. I realise that this makes it sound like this is going to be a negative review. It’s not. It is going to be a challenging one though since Marlon James’ latest novel is a very challenging book. Read more…

BOOK REVIEW: Miss Peregrine’s School for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

This book was my pick for our most recent book club. I had read a few reviews and seen the marvelously creepy cover as well as the hyped up marketing campaign and it sounded like it would be right up my street plus it’s young adult fiction, which has always done quite well in my book club. Read more…

BOOK REVIEW: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

This isn’t the first time I have read To Kill a Mockingbird. I have some fond memories of reading it in my early teens but while I remembered that I enjoyed the book I couldn’t actually remember any of the details. There were two reasons I wanted to reread it. The first is that it’s a classic and I wanted to revisit it and actually remember what happened. The second is that Harper Lee’s follow up Go Set a Watchman is out and while I really want to read it, it didn’t seem right without getting back in touch with To Kill a Mockingbird. So I suppose the question is whether my fond memories were warranted.

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BOOK REVIEW: Stardust by Neil Gaiman

I got Stardust as a free download when I bought something else. I can’t remember what though. Having read a few Neil Gaiman novels and enjoying the film interpretation it seemed like something I would like so I picked it as my holiday read while Mr O and I were in Tallinn and Helsinki.

Compared to some of Gaiman’s other novels Stardust  is quite a quick, simple read. It also has a somewhat different, gentler tone from most his other works, lacking their grit and darkness. Read more…

BOOK REVIEW: The Gone-Away World by Nick Harkaway

I read almost exclusively on my Kindle. This is mostly be cause I do the majority of my reading while commuting. Since my office move last year I don’t have a long commute but it’s long enough to get through a few dozen pages each day and it’s a lot easier to carry around my Kindle than a book. I do have one exception though. I also like to read in the bath. And although I have seen this as an option from preventing yourself from destroying your Kindle, I am still not keen on taking it in the bath with me. Plus I have a cupboard full of books that I appropriated from various flat mates that left them behind and Mr O’s pre-Kindle collection. Read more…

BOOK REVIEW: The Martian by Andy Weir

This book was recommended to me by my friend, Rob. Rob is married to Jen who is a member of my infamous book club. Along with Mr O and Tal (who is Carrie’s boyfriend) he is one of the book club BAHs (boyfriends and husbands) who all secretly wish they were allowed to join book club.

In the near future, botanist and engineer Mark Watney is a key member of the crew of a NASA mission to Mars. When a storm strikes the mission’s landing site Mark is injured and presumed dead forcing the crew to evacuate and leave him behind. Fortunately/unfortunately Mark isn’t dead but by the time he makes it back to the Hab (the crew’s Mars-based living quarters) it’s too late. Read more…