Saturday, 11 April 2015

More than just the cocktail

Hawaiian Vacation to do list:

  1. Bikini Up! You're in Oahu, and it's time for fruit drinks with umbrellas in them!
  2. Being obsessively organized doesn't work during a Hawaiian vacation.  Relax.  Seriously.
  3. Scan the resort for hot dudes.  Huh.  That hot jogger who ran by looks a lot like your ex, Jeremy - only fitter, harder and sexier.
  4. Moonlit walks mean bumping into Jot Jogger Guy.  Who is your ex.
  5. Don't panic.  Instead, think with your libido!  Also debate the merits of ex sex.
  6. Ignore the consequences.  Go for it.
  7. Revel in the afterglow. Go for rounds two and three.
  8. Ooh, kayaking!
  9. Round four.  Oops!
  10. Definitely do not think about why you broke up in the first place.  Or that you're having wicked hot nookie with the man you were here to forget ...

I had just finished a mystery thriller that was fairly heavy and wanted a light read.  This did just the job.  Written to a tried and tested formula but instead of traditional scenario this has a different twist to it; a second chance romance if you will.

This is the second part of a series and features one of two couples in this book.  This reader did not read that first book and it did not affect their enjoyment of this book.  So each book is stand alone.

The couple about whom this book is written still love each other although they are ex’s.  In this wonderful setting, they eventually work through the problems that caused them to be ex’s and established a game plan for the future and thereby rekindled their love.

A short, sweet, and steamy; read in one sitting book.  This book is ideal for the beach where you want a light story to while away the day.

Full Disclosure: I received a free copy from Netgalley for an honest review.

I rated this 3 stars on Netgalley and I liked it on Goodreads (3 stars) and Amazon (4 stars).

Friday, 10 April 2015

Kit & Clowder Book Club Month 4 - February/March 2015

This was a busy month at Kit and Clowder and so we were given this book to read.  Normal service will be resumed for next month.

The Spook's Apprentice is the first book in Joseph Delaney's terrifying Wardstone Chronicles - over 3 million copies sold worldwide.

'Someone has to stand against the dark.  And you're the only one who can.'

For years, the local Spook has been keeping the County safe from evil.  Now his time is coming to an en, but who will take over?  Many apprentices have tried.  Some have floundered, some fled, some failed to stay alive.  Just one boy is left.  Thomas Ward.  He is the last hope.  But does he stand a change against Mother Malkin, the most dangerous witch in the County?

This book seems to go by many names depending on where in the world you purchase it; namely The Last Apprentice; Revenge of the Witch (USA), The Spooks Apprentice (UK and original title), The Seventh Son.  Publishers also did this with the Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone which in American was known as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.  This reader is at a loss as to why publishers feel the need to change a book’s title.  Is it that the American audience needs titles that are dumbed down?

Grabs you from the get go and there is loads to keep the reader interested including ghasts, ghosts, ghouls, boggarts, and really nasty witches.  However, the story does go through a bit of a lull before the paced is picked up again with about a third to go.  Although the nastier parts have been sanitised, to a degree, they are still there so allow your child to read this with caution and definitely not at night.  Perhaps the book is better for young teens to read but then the language used would be too simplistic.

The world making is authentic and you can imagine yourself walking over to those terrifying trees next to the farm.  You can also feel the angst that Thomas feels being the seventh son without a trade.  Thomas is, I guess, like most 13 year olds, curious, insecure, scared and clumsy.  He develops throughout the book and shows he is smart, brave, cunning and ingenious.  The Spook is just that spooky but I am sure he, and his relationship with Thomas, will be further developed in later books in the series.

The secondary characters are also intriguing and this reader definitely wants to know more about Thomas’s mother and her special skills.  There is definitely more than meets the eye with her.  Where, how and why did she get those skills and how are they different to those of the Spook?  The author just touches on certain aspects of these people which mean that they lack a certain depth.  It is hoped that these characters will be further developed, and that all these questions and more will, again, be answered in later books in the series.

One sad part of the book was the lack of support the family showed Thomas once he had started his apprentice.  This reader could understand why but family should see that Thomas is so much more than his new job.

Throughout the course of this novel many things were inferred which this reader thinks is far scarier, dark and creepy than when an author spells everything out in black and white.

The only thing really predictable about this book was the ending which involved the ubiquitous final showdown.  For me this was the best part of the book and you can see how the skills he has learned on his journey with the Spook come into use. 

Unfortunately, this reader is not overly impressed by this novel.  It is quite possible that this is because I am considerably older than the intended audience; and unlike tweens of today, I grew up watching Hammer House of Horror films, The Omen trilogy, Tales of the Unexpected, and Stephen King so my horror experience was rather more advanced than others of the same age.  I therefore found this plot and indeed the language too simplistic.  This reader is not convinced that much changes in later novels and so is still in two minds whether to continue with this series.

All this means that I rated this book as It was ok on Amazon (3 stars) and Goodreads (2 stars).

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Kit & Clowder Book Club Month 3 - January/February 2015

The book choices for the month 3 - to be report on during the third weekend of February were:-

Book                                      Votes
The Book Thief                       +40
Lies of Locke Lamora           +18 (my vote)
Cinder                                       +17
Shiver                                        +11

HERE IS A SMALL FACT - YOU ARE GOING TO DIE 1939.  Nazi Germany.  The country is holding its breath.  Death has never been busier.  Liesel, a nine-year-old girl, is living with foster family on Himmel Street.  her parents have been taken away to a concentration cam.  Liesel steals books,  This is her story and the story of the inhabitants of her street when the bombs begin to fall.  SOME IMPORTANT INFORMATION - THIS NOVEL IS NARRATED BY DEATH  It's a small story, about: a girl, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist fighter and quite a lot of thievery.  ANOTHER THING YOU SHOULD KNOW - DEATH WILL VISIT THE BOOK THIEF THREE TIMES.

The most interesting thing about this book (its hook), and indeed, to a degree, its main selling point, is that it is narrated by Death who tells of the three times that he meets Liesel, the person who becomes the book thief and through the course of this tale he also describes many other people that cross paths with the book thief who lives in a desolate German village. 

All the characters are written with a wry hand, they are rough and ready, occasionally brutal and unlikeable, yet all are world worn, even the children.  Yet they are all able to show genuine love, tenderness, and generosity.  The one failing though is that these characters are flat and lack fine detail.  More depth could have been achieved is the novel had been told by Liesel herself (a first-hand account if you will).  Instead, Liesel comes across as rather stiff and stilted possibly due to Death’s detachment from the story.  This reader much preferred the lesser characters of Rudy and Max.

This book about the power of words and language makes sure that the dialogue of each character is appropriate for their age.  The developing interactions between the characters were interesting and it was the little idiosyncrasies about these characters that give the reader something to identify with, even if some of these are pretty ugly in places.

This reader appreciated the way Death transgresses onto other topics, the way we do I real life.  This detail gives the reader something to hang on to in this story and makes Death more lifelike and likeable.  Death is also portrayed as not being blasé about death but rather seemed to be deeply affected by the numbers that died during World War II, to paraphrase Death- Hitler kept him very busy.

It is lovely to have another account of ordinary Germans (as opposed Nazis, Jewish accounts, or historical accounts) who are experiencing the profound effect of the Nazi regime.  None are really safe be they Jews, Jewish sympathisers or law abiding citizens who are blond haired and blue eyed, especially if they are not a member of the Party.

This book is very lyrical, but in places both disjointed and overall poignant.  One aspect of the story telling (which I initially found annoying) was the bits that were in emboldened these which are additional details or explanations made by Death.  They sort of added to the story but are not really a part of it.

On problem I had with this book was that there wasn’t really any plot, which necessitated the ending (prior to the prologue).  Rather it was a remembrance of certain instances where Death encountered Liesel.  Now I can honestly say that the only film that consciously makes me cry is The King and I; I won’t say I cry at the drop of a hat but I do cry, in the venture is encompassing enough,  At the end of this novel I did nor ry.  Don’t get me wrong I was touched but not enough to outright cry

This book is not a fast, I must find out what is going on, read but rather a considered read that takes time.  It is rather long and some of the hyperbole could be reduced.  The ending of the book is suitable although sad.  The addition of the epilogue makes the journey complete.  That said though this reader would have liked to see what happened to Max and Liesel between the end of the book and the epilogue.  In short this book is brilliant, poignant, and thought provoking. 

If, after reading this novel, you want to read more about this disastrous chapter in our history this reader would heartedly recommend two books she read as a teenager and young adult which were the brilliant The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom or the YA version Corrie Ten Boom: Watchmakers Daughter by Jean Watson.

I liked this book and rated it as such on Amazon (4 stars) and Goodreads (3 stars).

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Kit & Clowder Book Club Month 2 - December/January 2015

Kit and Clowder Book Club
Kit and Clowder is a group on Facebook that has grown from the Kit and Clowder colouring classes and it is the best Facebook page that I belong to.  What started as a colouring support page has grown into a community of friends who support each other in numerous ways.

In November 2014 our illustrious leader Alyce Keegan needed a new book to read and it got her thinking "is anyone looking for a book to read as well?  Have you ever taken part in a bookclub?  I wonder if anyone would be interested to do something like that in here.".  The response was overwhelming so one was started.  We meet on the third weekend of the month to discuss the book and choose the new book around the same time.  The questions posed at our meetings are really interesting and thought provoking, making us look at the book in a deeper more considered way. If you would like to join an excellent group and read books as well come on over and join the fun.

For the first month Alyce chose the book (review to follow at a later date).  For subsequent months Alyce selects four books with a rating of 4 stars or more on Goodreads.  Alyce also provides a link to the book page in Goodreads so we can look at the reviews and the book blurb.  From those four we vote for the one we want to read.  The book with the most votes becomes the read for the month.

So in December we were given a choice of:

Book                            Votes
Gone Girl                         43   (I voted for this one)
The Help                          18
The Maze Runner         14
Hunger Games              12

Who are you?

What have we done to each other?

These are the questions Nick Dunne finds himself asking on the morning of his fifth wedding anniversary, when his wife Amy suddenly disappears. The police suspect Nick. Amy's friends reveal that she was afraid of him, that she kept secrets from him. He swears it isn't true. A police examination of his computer shows strange searches. He says they weren't made by him. And then there are the persistent calls on his mobile phone. So what really did happen to Nick's beautiful wife?

I read this book as it was the choice made by my new book club.  I had not read any of the reviews until after reading and discussing the novel at the aforementioned book club.  That said I think the book I read is totally different to the book read by some other reviewers.  I am not sure why this is, perhaps I read too much for Netgalley and/or my expectations were too high for this lauded book.

This story is told through alternating points of view by Nick and Amy.  Initially the book is very lyrical.  This reader loved the bit where the interest is said to be like a dog that you occasionally throw kibble but as it turned out there was only one other place that the book was this lyrical.  Instead it turns into a smug, ploddy, verbose account of a disastrous marriage between two rich and highly unlikeable people.  

The reasoning behind the premise of the novel is too grim to contemplate; the main protagonist surely has a screw loose.  Neither character has any redeeming qualities which was obviously the author’s intention.  Are people really that self-centred and no-accountable for the events in their life? I suppose they are.  This reader wonders how many ‘normal’ readers would care to read about the trials and tribulations of a rich couple fallen on hard times?  Not this one.  Surely there should have been something that the reader could identify with and root for.  But the author is intent on making you root for the lesser of the two evils.

The interesting bit of this novel started to happen with only 20% to go.  This reader felt that too much time was spend on setting up for this 20% this means that the ending was rushed and that there was very little pay off for the amount of reading need to get to this point.  Why this novel was optioned and turned into a film is beyond this reader’s comprehension.  (That said this reader did watch the film and was equally non-plussed by that as they were by the book.)

In short had this book not been chosen by the book club it would probably have stayed on the bookshelf unread.

As you may have guessed, I did not like this book and so rated it as such on (1 star) and (2 stars).