Archive for June, 2008

This is a truly fabulous book.  The narrator is an unnamed man (in the film adaptation he is named Zorg), who at the start of the book is a week into his relationship with the beautiful and wild Betty. However, as the relationship progresses, it becomes clear that Betty is dangerously fragile and wildly unpredictable, and leads them both into some scary situations. However, our narrator loves Betty above all else, and is prepared to put up with anything just to be with her, and is prepared to do anything that will make her happy. Eventually Betty harms herself to such an extent that she ends up in hospital, as an empty shell of a person and merely a shadow of her former self. The narrator can not stand to see her this way, and finds his own way of dealing with it.

I am struggling to find words to describe this beautiful and intense love story. By turns happy, sad and funny, it is a wonderfully written and believable book.  The characters are beautifully drawn and so fully fleshed out that I felt totally immersed in their lives.

The best advice I can give anybody about it is ‘read it’. At the beginning of the story, the narrator displays a contentment with life and is happy with his lot (as long as he has Betty, nothing else bothers him). But as the book progresses, his tone and attitude changes – we can see through his narration how life is bringing him down and making him sad, but still he cannot bear to live without his Betty, no matter how difficult life with her might be.

This is some very clever and moving writing, and without doubt, I will be reading this book again many times in the future.  The book made me gasp, laugh and cry.  Very moving and very lovely.  A real love story with a difference.

(Author’s website can be found here.)

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Interesting idea, and this started off well, but tailed off towards the end, and I found the ending disappointing.

The book starts off with a young man, Jamie, who lives an unremarkable life, unwittingly finding himself (through a series of events seemingly almost beyond his control) auditioning as a clown in the Pilo Family Circus. However, this is no ordinary circus – it is somewhere near to but not on our planet, and is populated by all sorts of evil and frightening creatures. The clowns, which Jamie joins are gleefully murderous and sadistic, and when Jamie finds himself sharing his body with his alter ego, JJ the clown. Unfortunately, JJ is evil and cruel, and Jamie finds himself battling for control of his body and mind.

The real villain of the piece though is Kurt Pilo, one of the owners of the circus, who lacks any kind of conscience or better nature whatsoever.

Can Jamie find a way back to his ordinary life? To be honest – although I enjoyed the first half of the book – by the end I had stopped really caring.

Character development was pretty much non-existent, although I can understand this up to a point, as this book is largely plot driven, rather than anything else.  However, it did seem that the ‘good’ side of Jamie could have been any man, and the ‘bad’ side of him was something of a caricature.

Despite this, the idea behind the novel was enough for me to consider reading another book by this author, if and when he writes one.  

(Author’s website can be found here.)

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I doubt I would have gotten around to reading this book for quite some time, had a friend not recommended it to me. I am very grateful to her, because I thoroughly enjoyed it.

This is a fictional story, set against a factual backdrop. Hannah Green is a Jewish girl, who is sold into the service of Sir Robert Dudley, son of the Duke of Northumberland, who is advisor to King Edward. When Edward dies, Hannah finds herself sold as a ‘fool’ to the heir Princess Mary. Despite her expectations, Hannah grows to admire and respect the new Queen, as well as admiring the Queen’s sister, Elizabeth, who is portrayed as a plotting schemer, and not to be trusted. Hannah finds her loyalties tested, in an England where being Jewish is enough to have someone tried and executed for heresy.  Also in the story is Hannah’s relationship with her betrothed, Daniel, which takes some surprising twists and turns.

The period is brought to life with great colour and atmosphere, and the characters are all very well developed.  I thought Hannah was fabulous – somewhat ahead of her time, honest and loyal.  I also liked Princess Mary, who is often portrayed in a rather more negative light.  It was interesting to see a more compassionate depiction of her.

This is a hugely enjoyable book, which really brings history to life, and certainly raised my interest in the Tudor period.  Very well researched – this is an intelligent page-turner.

(Author’s website can be found here.)

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This is of course the book that spawned the hugely successful movie, and I actually just about preferred it to the film. Certainly, it is very different indeed to the film, and difficult to compare.

Forrest Gump is, in his own words, “a idiot.” He bumbles through life, always trying to do the right thing, and ends up joining a band, going into space on a NASA misson, becoming a tournament chess player, amongst other things! He is in love with Jenny Curran since childhood, and she features heavily in his thoughts and life.

It is quite a moving story, and very very funny. I laughed out loud on several occasions (don’t read it in public!).

Forrest is a very lovable character – pretty much a child in a huge man’s body, with a very simplistic way of looking at life.  He is full of goodness and decency.  If some of the things that happen to him seem to incredible to be believable – well, they probably are, but that’s part of the fun. 

My advice would be not to compare the book to the movie, and just to take it on it’s own merits. Very enjoyable, and I am looking forward to reading the sequel.

(Author’s website can be found here.)

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