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Really funny and entertaining!

A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian - Marina Lewycka

The entire concept of this book is amazing, and it is really funny - but nothing like I expected. Imagine an old man who suddenly discovers new life through a buxom lady - but one whom the family think is after his money. They worry - and have good reason - especially when her relative arrive. Such characters! Why the tractors? It is part of a thesis the old chap is writing, and the short exceprts of this are even interesting in their own right and not boring.

I had the slight feeling the ending was perhaps a little hurried, and the approach to point-of-view was sometimes a little questionable, but such quibbles are purely academic, for the sheer enjoyment outweights them by far. If you want cheering up, just read it! It is one of my favourites.

Sorry, but hated the approach!

Boy in the Striped Pyjamas - J. Boyne

Because its fame came before it, I chose to read this book. I was disappointed by it because I think it might have worked better with a different approach. As a writer, I found the choice of using third-person viewpoint and yet still writing what must surely be a young-adult or adult book in baby language was a poor choice. This topic is not for Enid Blyton readers. This level was emphasised by repetitive phrasing while inside the head of this child, Bruno, and such would only really work if this book had been written in first-person: which would have worked much better. To suggest it is a children's book amazes me, despite the baby language; you really don't want to 'charm' little children with tales of Nazi prison camps. In any case, only an adult can interpret what goes on, especially at the end of this book, so that blows a hole in that interpretation.

I have to agree with criticisms that to believe the 9 year-old son of the Commandant of a prison camp such as Auschwitz has not heard of Hitler and his aims is asking a bit too much (especially since he had been taught the Nazi salute). Even in those days, no child of that age could be as naive as this one. That he mishears 'Der Führer' as 'The Fury' and 'Auschwitz' as 'Out-With' becomes increasingly annoying with multiple repetitions, especially since such unlikely confusion could only occur with the English versions of these words and not the German: huge plot flaws. It is annoying that things like this, which prevent any suspension of disbelief and, rather, creat a feeling of total disbelief. And that this little boy is able to meet a 9 year-old inmate of the prison camp to chat through an unpatrolled section of the fence, for a year, and even pull up the wire to go into the camp in the closing scenes, beggars belief. I am also uncomfortable with the 'cosy fable' aspect of this dreadful scenario. I don't want to spoil the plot, but I also feel Bruno's father should have come out of this with a much more positive sense of self-realization as the result of learning what happened. Such an antagonist should reep his just deserts!

I cannot see a target audience to whom this book might actually speak. I have not seen the film, which possibly filters out some of the many plot flaws. As I said, it could be done much better. A pity that didn't happen.

Gripping (except the dragging middle)

Gone Girl - Gillian Flynn

After reading this novel, I feel as mixed up as the couple the story is all about.

Basically, I think this is a great book. It has some good twists and turns. And I put it up there with the most memorable books I've read. And yet, despite the praise...
- The treasure hunt seemed so contrived.
- There were some really boring bits which got nowhere fast.
- It's good to know who to shout for in a novel, but I found myself changing horses and finally not liking anyone particularly.

So give it a read, because it's quite gripping. And loads of people really love it, so you should know where you stand.

And I liked it, too.

I think!

By the way, I haven't seen the film yet. I would like to. Maybe that might be better. (Sorry, I don't normally allow myself to suggest that.) Actually, how could they possibly make a film that's anything like the book, given you need to be inside heads?

Note to self. I must find out what they did there!

A real insight into Aspergers - in a gripping novel!

House Rules - Jodi Picoult
I greatly admire Jodi Picoult. Not only does she write really well, and research new subjects really well, she comes up with great plot lines and characters. This is no exception. The gruesome opening pages might be enough to put some people off, but all is not what it seems. (Is it ever in a thriller?) So plough on through them to get to the good stuff.

This really does give a good insight into Aspergers, so it is both educational and entertaining. Not to mention grippping.

While I did suspect the likely outcome fairly early on, there was always an element of doubt, and I certainly wanted to know if i was right. And a subtle clue near the ending made mewonder if, even when 'proved' right, Ireally was. So watch out for the clues and see where they take you.

Great characters and a wonderful read.


Dan Brownesque!

The Atlantis Code - Charles Brokaw

Alias Dan Brown. Plot Da Vinci. Characters as thin as Dan Brown.
But... some impressive looking facts (assuming them to be correct).
Unlikely behaviours. Girls tougher than men. Lots of pages.
Sorry if this is a bit cryptic, but that is the world of the famous linguist Lourds. He could read between the gaps. What would he interpret?
What do you? Will I read more of this series?
Ah, now. Go decipher!

Gripping, clever, mysterious, involving, taut, fast-paced...

You're Next - Gregg Hurwitz

This is one of my favourite novels - and I don't say that lightly.
Gripping, clever, mysterious, involving, taut, fast-paced...
In fact a jolly good read!
And speaking as a novelist, I can say it's a great piece of writing, too. Great plot, good characters.
Why is someone doing this to his dear little family? That's the plot. And answering that question is what it's all about.

A mountain of trouble!

The Lie - Penny Rawlins, C.L. Taylor

A group of four friends – protagonist Emma, Leanne, Al and Daisy – have various reasons to go on holiday together. Leanne persuades them to go to Nepal and trek up into the Annapurna Range via Kathmandu, through Pokhara and on to a “retreat” run by young people who have dropped out of society. Ekanta Yatra, set in a remote, mountainous area offers seclusion, solitude, meditation, yoga, massage, sex... and lots of underhand goings-on that, time reveals, brands it as a dangerous cult.


The narrative jumps between present day Emma working in rural Wales, having changed her name for reasons you wait a long while to find out, and the reasons for that, stemming from her time in Ekanta Yatra.


I was initially a little confused between the four principal characters at times, but that might just be me! Tension is built with skill, and the varied characters all become a bit bitchy in their own ways. Clearly their friendships were on a knife-edge from the start, but as matters develop in the mountain retreat, no one can count on anyone for reliable support.

An interesting read.

The Grave Concerns of Jennifer Lloyd - Ian Kingsley

The video is just a taster of 'THE GRAVE CONCERNS OF JENNIFER LLOYD'.


A feisty young television presenter is fighting to keep the job she loves. She figures exposing a murderer live on-camera is the way to do it and she's willing to take risks. But will her recently acquired self-defence skills be enough when the knives come out? Yet nothing is plain. Was there one murder or two? One murderer or two?


Find out more about this novel in both paperback and eBook formats at my website.


If you would like a free copy and promise to post your review here and on Amazon or Smashwords within 28 days check this offer out here!