Saturday, 19 October 2013

Book Review: A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood

            A Single Man is one of those novels that is seemingly about an ordinary day in an ordinary man’s life. It begins at dawn and follows George throughout another day. However, as I’m sure you have guessed, it’s not really that ordinary. George is dealing with life, after losing the man he loved while still trying to negotiate everyday life.
            Isherwood’s writing style is really very good and easy to get used to. You get a wonderful sense of this character, almost as if you’re actually spending this day with him, which is weird seeing as though this a novel where nothing much really happens. It’s much more about emotion and there is a lot to talk about here so this would be perfect for a book club.
            So to summarize, the is a subtle tale, that has immense strength and emotion in the writing.
            Oh, just quickly also, it’s been made into a lovely film by the designer Tom Ford too.

A Single Blurb:

            “Celebrated as a masterpiece from its first publication, A Single Man is the story of George Falconer, an English professor is suburban California left heartbroken after the sudden death of his lover, Jim. With devastating clarity and humour, Christopher Isherwood shows George’s determination to carry on, evoking the unexpected pleasures of life, as well as the soul’s ability to triumph over loss and alienation.”

Friday, 18 October 2013

Book Review: Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan

            I love asking customers when they buy a McEwan novel, if they are a fan or whether it’s the first McEwan novel they are reading. Everyone’s answers are really interesting and I’ve come to find that he’s a real marmite author –love him or hate him.
            Personally I love a McEwan novel. Atonement is probably one of my favourite books I have ever read. The Cement Garden is another really good one of his which is his debut. In my opinion, his earlier work is a lot stronger than his more recent work. I did not care for Solar. So this is his latest, published last year in PB, and it is good. But just good. It centers on Serena Frome, who eventually is groomed for the intelligence services and what happens from there is a web of intrigue and interest. I just feel like McEwan doesn’t do his characters justice in this novel. Or maybe it’s just the fact that none of the characters are very likeable, and the ones that are supposed to be are quite irritating.
            Although I think McEwan falls short of his usual magic, I did actually enjoy this. As I say, if you’re a McEwan fan, its worth a read but if you are new to McEwan, you’re better off with one of his earlier ones.

Blurb Tooth:

            “Serena Frome, the beautiful daughter of an Anglican bishop, has a brief affair with an older man during her final year at Cambridge, and finds herself being groomed for the intelligence services. The year is 1972. Britain, confronting economic disaster, is being torn apart by industrial unrest and terrorism and faces its fifth state of emergency. The Cold War has entered a moribund phase, but hr fight goes on, especially in the cultural sphere.
            Serena, a compulsive reader of novels, is sent on a ‘secret mission’ which brings her into the literary world of Tom Haley, a promising young writer. First she loves his stories, then she begins to love the man. Can she maintain the fiction of her undercover life? And who is inventing whom? To answer these questions, Serena must abandon the first rule of espionage – trust no one.
            McEwan’s mastery dazzles us in this superbly deft and witty story of betrayal and intrigue, love, and the invented self.”

Book Review: Fortunately, The Milk by Neil Gaiman

            Now I realize that this is a 5-8yrs children’s book, so I’m not necessarily recommending it to you other adults… However if you were to give this a try, here is why you will enjoy it.
            It is so much fun. Basically a father needs to go and but some milk for his children to have some cereal. He later returns and recounts his story to his children of his adventure. Turns out, on the way to the corner shop, he was abducted by aliens and captured by pirates and harassed by vampires and befriends some kind of dinosaur professor thing.
            The illustrations in this book, by Chris Riddell, are absolutely charming so they compliment the story perfectly. So if you need any gift for anyone young, this will be perfect. It is fun and playful, charming and has a beautiful amount to heart to it. Love-r-ly.  

Fortunately, The Blurb:

“You know what it’s like when your mum goes away on a business trip and Dad’s in charge. She leaves a really, really long list of what he’s got to do. And the most important thing is DON’T FORGET TO GET THE MILK. Unfortunately, Dad forgets. So the next morning, before breakfast, he has to go to the corner shop, and this is the story of why it takes him a very, very long time to get back.
Featuring: Professor Steg (a time-travelling dinosaur), some green globby things, the Queen of the Pirates, the famed jewel that is the Eye of Splod, some wumpires, and a perfectly normal but very important carton of milk.
The award-laden, bestselling Neil Gaiman, author of The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Stardust, Neverwhere, The Graveyard Book and Coraline, brings his biggest ever publishing year to a spectacular conclusion with this gloriously entertaining novel about time-travel, dinosaurs, milk and dads.”

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Book Review: My Name is Red by Orhan Pamuk

            This book has everything. There’s murder, romance, thrills, suspense, betrayal, love, friendship, deceit, and the list goes on. Its probably one of the only novels I have read that encompasses so many different themes.
            This is set in 1590’s Istanbul, and Pamuk’s writing style shines here as you get such spicy and evocative prose, its almost like you can smell the spices and experience the heat of the Turkish sun. A murder mystery begins the novel and things unfold from there. An illustrator of beautiful and elaborate books is thrown into a well, which sets a whole series of events into motion that sustains a 500-page rollercoaster of a novel. Each chapter chops and changes between each different character’s perspectives, so the story is interestingly and cleverly built up from all perspectives like a 3D puzzle. This really is great, great writing displayed at its best here. it’s a super ride and there is something for everyone.

My Name is Blurb:

            “In Istanbul, in the late 1590s, the Sultan commissions a great book: a celebration of his life and his empire, to be illuminated by the best artists of the day – in the European manner. But when one of the miniaturists is murdered, their master has to seek outside help. Did the dead painter fall victim to professional rivalry, romantic jealousy or religious terror?
            A thrilling murder mystery, My Name is Red is also a stunning mediation on love, artistic devotion and the tensions between the East and West.”

Me In Bookshops

I love being on holiday and going to another bookshop that I don't work in just so I can browse.

Book Review: Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson

            I picked this up because I knew it would satisfy my hunger for a good bit of fantasy-esque teen fiction. (Yes, every now and then this hunger becomes too strong and gorging is so good).
            So I embarked on this with all the expectation of trashy teen fantasy romance fun. However what I found was a beautiful, lyrical love story that is full of soul and emotion.
The novel starts and you learn that a certain faerie who is later named as ‘Tinkerbell’ narrates our story (first sign of teen fiction addiction satisfied). As the story unfolds, ‘Tink’ introduces us to a solitary and introverted Tiger Lily, who is seen as a bit weird by the other members of the clan. Anderson does a superb job fleshing out characters you can really feel for – Tiger Lily’s meeting and subsequent relationship with Peter Pan and the Lost Boys is honest and believable and Wendy’s entrance into the story is brilliant. I just loved the epic feel that Anderson manages to weave into this story that at its base is about three people. I really enjoyed this take on the story, and I was not disappointed for one moment as I read this story. I loved the sense of place, the fully-rounded characters and the subtle story that was so evocative and moving.

Tiger Blurby:

            “Before Peter Pan belonged to Wendy, he belonged to the girl with the feather in her hair…
            This is a love story unlike any you’ve ever heard…
            Tiger Lily doesn’t believe in love stories or happy endings…until she meets Peter pan in the forbidding woods of Neverland. Immediately, she falls under his spell – holding him like a secret in her heart.
            Peter is unlike anyone she’s ever known. Reckless and brave, he both scares and enthralls her. She will risk everything – her family, her future – to be with him.
            But Tiger Lily soon discovers that the most dangerous enemy can live inside even the most loyal and loving heart.”

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Book Review: Stay Where You Are & Then Leave by John Boyne

            After the wonderful and heartbreaking “The Boy in the Stripped Pajamas” John Boyne has a massively amazing novel to try to match. Unfortunately, quite frankly, he doesn’t match it with this new novel, which is published in late September. “The Boy in the Stripped Pajamas” is so fantastic, honestly it might one of the most amazing books I have found in my book career. So the fact that this new novel doesn’t quite match it, doesn’t disappoint me because it is still really good!
            Its about a little boy, whose father goes to war when WWI breaks out on the 5th birthday of out protagonist little boy. Soon the father goes missing and the little boy creates his own adventure to find him.
            This really does tug at heart-strings so be warned, but Boyne has an absolutely endearing writing style that perfectly narrates the story with a sense of naivety. If you enjoyed “The Boy in the Stripped Pajamas” then you will like this but try not to compare them as much as I did! Enjoy.

Papa Blurb:

            “This is a story about a boy.
            It’s a story about his father.
            It’s a story about a shoe-shine a train journey, a white feather
            And it’s a story about a secret.”