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Archive for December, 2007

I quite enjoyed this book, but I did not feel that it was worth all the hype surrounding it.

The book, which is set during World War II, tells the story of Bruno, a 9 year old German boy, who is dismayed when he has to leave his home in Berlin to move to ‘Out-With’, where his father has been given a job by the ‘Fury’.

Bruno does not understand why there is a huge fence at Out-With, behind which 100s of people in striped pyjamas live, who he is not allowed to associate with.

However, Bruno makes a friend, Shmuel, who lives behind the fence – a friendship which surely can only end in disaster.

The book is told from the point of view of Bruno, so it is easy for adults to see past his naive views of the world, and sense impending doom, where Bruno is unable to see it.

One thing that did bother me about the writing was that Bruno’s mis-understanding and mis-pronouncing of words such as Out-With and the Fury, would not actually in the language in which Bruno would be speaking, i.e., German; they work in English only, and I couldn’t help thinking of this as I read the book. Also, there were a few glaring historical inaccuracies; I have heard someone defend the book in this regard by saying it’s a fable, and not necessarily supposed to be historically accurate – however, I think calling it a fable is just a way for the author to get around the inaccuracies.

I did not feel that we really got to explore the characters well, although Bruno’s mother intrigued me.  The writing did however flow easily and it was a quick and easy read.

(Author’s website can be found here.)

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I enjoyed this book. The fictional narrator is Scott Barron, a successful writer, with a gorgeous girlfriend. Scott has a brother, Jes, who, while far less successful than Scott, is happily married and enjoys his life.

They love each other, as brothers do, but are not especially close. But then there is a tragedy in the family, and both of their lives start unravelling. The knock on effect is that they start blaming each other for their insecurities, and old resentments are dragged up.

Despite the subject matter, this is a humorous book, although the narrator has a tendency to pity himself, and is not as likeable as you may expect.  However, the characters are fully rounded (no pun intended) and easy enough to believe in.

Gentle humorous writing, especially the penguin scene (and I’m saying no more than that!), which had me laughing out loud.

A recommended read.

(Author’s website can be found here.)

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I don’t think any book has ever taken me as long to read as this one!

A young girl finds a mysterious book and asks her father about it. He then tells her his own story about how he had found a similar book years before, and had spoken to his mentor about it. The book had taken him on a journey through Eastern Europe, to try to find the tomb of Dracula. The book is told mainly through the father’s letters.

It is obviously very well researched, and very informative about the life of Vlad The Impaler. It never resorts to the gratuitous gore that books in this genre can sometimes be guilty of.

However, I did feel that it dragged somewhat throughout the middle part, and I found that I was not always enjoying it. However, the ending – perhaps the last 200 pages – are superb, and really held my attention.  I think the book would have benefited from having been a couple of hundred pages shorter, as the middle part became rather confusing at times.

The characters are well crafted, with the main character (unnamed) really being brought to life.

Overall, I would recommend the book, especially to anyone with an interest in the horror genre, or an interest in Dracula, but I’m not sure that I would read anything else by this author.

(Author’s website can be found here.)

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