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Archive for February, 2008

I was a little underwhelmed by this book.  Not that I didn’t enjoy it on some level, but it was far less enjoyable than I was expecting.

Smithson Ide is a vastly overweight, middle aged loner, who numbs his pain with alcohol and food.  As the beginning of the book, his parents get killed in a road accident, and shortly afterwards, he finds that his sister, who disappeared years previously, has also died.  Smithson takes his old Raleigh bicycle, and just starts pedalling.  And then he just carries on.

I have a feeling that this is supposed to be one of those ‘life affirming books’ that makes you feel good.  It isn’t, and it doesn’t.  I actually found it quite depressing, and the main character is really not all that likable.

The writing itself was fine, and Smithson was a well developed character; however, I just couldn’t empathise with him on any level and felt that he was not someone I wanted to spend time reading about.

Not awful, but I won’t be reading anything else by this author.

(Author’s website can be found here.)

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Chick lit is not one of my favourite genres, but this book is better than a lot of the Bridget Jones imitations that are floating around. The book is about a group of friends at college, who resolve to meet up five years after graduation and see how their lives have turned out. However, things don’t quite go to plan for any of them, and as the story unfolds, secrets are uncovered and long buried hurts are brought to the surface. Fast paced and very readable, if even some of the events that happen are quite difficult to believe.

Also, the editing is dreadful!! There are typos and words missed out all over the place, which I found really annoying, but for which the author should not be blamed (that’s what an editor’s for)! My favourite character was Leah, although the main three characters are all likeable.  That said, while I enjoyed the book while I was reading it, it’s not one that’s likely to last in my memory for any length of time.

Overall, I would say if you’re a fan of chick lit, this is worth picking up.  If, like me, you enjoy it occasionally, you could do worse than this book.

(Author’s website can be found here.)

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Edward Trencom has always lived an unremarkable life. He is the owner of Trencom’s cheese shop in London, and is married to the feisty Elizabeth. The only thing that makes Edward stand out from the crowd is his very unusual nose. Not only is it unusual in shape, but it is also extremely sensitive to all sorts of smells.

Edward’s life of normalcy soon appears under threat however, when he realises that he is being followed, and also unearths documentation relating to his family history. As Edward investigates the Trencoms who came before him, he realises that the last nine generations of his family have come to a sticky end, and it looks like he might be about to do so as well.

This book has a lot of mystery, mixed in with some eccentric comedy, and while unlikely to be very memorable in the long term, it is certainly an amusing and enjoyable read.

The characters are funny and quirky, and while I didn’t find myself caring about them particularly deeply, I was eager to read on and find out what happened throughout the story.

I would definitely read more by this author.  (One word of warning – if you like eating cheese, this book might make you crave some!)

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The Big Easy, stars Dennis Quaid and Ellen Barkin, and I found it a really enjoyable film. Dennis Quaid plays a smooth talking, wise cracking Lt. in the New Orleans Police, who enjoys the perks his job affords him.  Ellen Barkin is the uptight member of the District Attorney’s Office who is sent to investigate police corruption, after a number of Mafia style murders take place.

Despite the fact that the two characters have very different attitudes and belief systems, there is an undeniable attraction between them, but professionally, they find themselves at odds with each other.

The story moves along at a cracking pace, and I never felt bored while watching.  Dennis Quaid is very sexy in a sleazy kind of way, and the chemistry between him and Barkin is positively sizzling!

Both of the two lead actors are excellent, even if Dennis Quaid’s New Orleans accent takes some getting used to at first!

I can’t believe I haven’t watched this movie before now – however, I will definitely be watching it again!

Year of release: 1986

Director: Jim McBride

Writer: Daniel Petrie Jr.

Main cast: Dennis Quaid, Ellen Barkin, Ned Beatty, John Goodman

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I loved this book.

Margaret Lea is a sometime biographer and fulltime bibliophile, who receives a summons to write the biography of elusive author Vida Winter. Nobody has ever been able to get the true story of Miss Winter’s life before, and her past has always been shrouded in mystery.

Margaret sets out on her task with some trepidation, and learns the history of Angelfield house, and the Angelfield family – Isabelle, Charlie, Adeline and Emmeline. Their story is one with lots of twists and turns, where nothing is quite what it seems.

Margaret finds herself becoming more and more drawn into Vida Winter’s life story, which resonates with her own.

The characters – especially those of Margaret, Adeline and Emmeline – are well drawn and fully fleshed out.  The writing is love, infusing the story has a sense of tension – and I could not have begun to guess how it would end!

Beautifully written, this is a gothic tale of family history, and the tangled webs people weave. I thought that reading it would be something of a chore, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. Wonderful!

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This is a tense psychological thriller, with sinister undertones.

Cassie answers a job advertisement requesting a couple for a housekeeping position in a remote part of the Australian bush.  She thinks that this will either make or break her relationship with the unreliable Graham. 

However, when they get there, they find that things are very strange.  The house owner and his wife Mara are an unusual couple to say the least.  Cassie and Graham send letters and cards home, but never receive any mail back, and there is no telephone for them to contact anyone.

To say much more would be to give away too much of the plot, but I really enjoyed this book.  The fact that there are so few characters, and the majority of the book is set in such a remote atmosphere, makes it a ‘claustrophobic’ read.  My one complaint is that the final denouement, when it came, was just too implausible.  Up to that point however, the book had proved a fantastic read, with lots of twists to crank up the tension.

The characters were well developed – which you would expect as there are so few of them.  Cassie was a decent enough heroine (of sorts), while Graham was exasperating, but that was fine because he was obviously supposed to be. 

The ending notwithstanding, this is a real page turner, and I would certainly read more by this author

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