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Posts Tagged ‘friendship’

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I listened to this audiobook, narrated by Tom Kotcher, over the course of several days. it is billed as the first in the Karen Pirie series, but Officer Pirie is very much on the periphery of this story (I suspect it was to ‘test the waters’ before writing a series based around a particular character).

It’s a book of two halves; the first half is set in 1978, when four students – who are known by their nicknames, Ziggy, Gilly, Weird and Mondo – in St Andrews stable across the body of a young woman named Rosie Duff, who is vaguely known to them. She has been attacked and left for dead. The police launch an investigation which fails to find the killer, but suspicion falls upon the four lads, and follows them around for the rest of their time at the university.

25 years later, the police reopen the cold case, but things take a strange turn when two of the former students are murdered and the remaining two decide that someone is taking revenge on them for the murder of Rosie. With the police not seeming to get anywhere, the two men decide to do some sleuthing of their own.

This is the first Val McDermid book I have ever read or listened to, and I have to say that I did enjoy it. Tom Kotcher did a good job narrating, with the exception of his American accent, which was pretty atrocious. Fortunately there are only a couple of American characters and neither of them feature very heavily, so that was not really an issue.

McDermid describes the tension and atmosphere extremely well, and I did feel that the four young men were all very distinctive; their relationships with each other were also well portrayed and formed a large part of the story. As for the mystery itself – I did actually figure out who the killer was when I was about a third of the way through, but nonetheless I still liked listening to the novel.

Based on this book, I would definitely try more by this author.

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I’m not sure how this film managed to slip under the radar to the extent that it has. After all, it stars two very well known actors, and one of them is Keanu Reeves – a man who it’s virtually impossible to dislike (it might even be illegal at this point!)

Anyway, I love Keanu and I think Winona Ryder is a terrific actress in this kind of role so I looked forward to watching this film, and I wasn’t disappointed. Frank (Reeves) and Lindsay (Ryder) meet up when they both travel to the same destination wedding – one which neither of them wants to attend. Initial animosity turns to friendship and affection, but both have tainted views of relationships and want to insulate themselves against pain, so determine that they should not get involved.

if that sounds angsty, the film itself isn’t. It’s charming, very funny and unusual in that Frank and Lindsay are the only two characters who actually speak throughout the film. It’s so cleverly done though, that it was only after I had finished watching that I actually realised this. There are other people in it of course – but they don’t have lines.

Both characters have the potential to be very unlikeable. Frank is a narcissist, and Lindsay verges on neurotic – so casting two likeable actors was a smart move on the part of the filmmakers, because while you are not blind to their very human flaws, you also actually do care about these characters and get invested in their story (at least I certainly did).

It’s a rather lovely film, and I would certainly recommend it.

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In Liverpool in 1985 Adam, Kathleen and Jocelyn are teenagers and best friends, who are brought together by an unusual nativity play. They all have high hopes for their future – Adam wants to be a writer, Jocelyn wants to be a singer, and Kathleen wants to be an embalmer (yep!) Their lives might be messy and chaotic, but they are filled with friendship and laughter.

Fast forward 30 years, and Kathleen is an alcoholic, Adam is consumed with guilt over a big secret, and Jocelyn is dead.

This is where the story starts, but from then on, it jumps backwards and forwards in time between 1985, 2015 and the intervening years. It also switches narrators between the three main characters, and another character named Billy, whose role in the story I won’t reveal.

The constant character and timeline switches were handled well, and I didn’t feel that they got confusing, although it would have been easy for them to do so. I read this book in two days, which – for me anyway – means that it was easy to get into, and that the writing flowed well. I found myself looking forward to picking it up again each time I had to put it down. However, it was darker in tone than I was expecting. The cover quotes led me to anticipate a dark comedy, and this was more of a drama with a bit of comedy thrown in. I didn’t like Jocelyn much, and I didn’t particularly feel invested in Adam’s character. I quite liked Kathleen, although her behaviour left a lot to be desired at times. But of all the characters, she seemed the most hopeful, the most eager to believe in the possibility of a decent future.

There was a plot twist at the end, which I guessed about halfway through, but this is not a mystery where a plot twist can change your perspective about everything that has gone before, so it didn’t really affect my enjoyment of the book. No. if I had to have one major gripe, it was that the events that took place relied VERY heavily on coincidence, which did require me to suspend my disbelief several times.

I won’t spoil the ending for anyone, but suffice to say that while this was not what I was expecting and I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as I had hoped, it was still a worthy read and I would definitely check out more novels by Jonathan Harvey.

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I listened to this audiobook while out on a longish run. It’s a shortish audiobook at about an hour and a half, so perfect for my purposes.

Told entirely through letters, this is the story of a growing friendship between Carrie and David, who each discover that their spouses are having an affair with each other. What initially starts as Carrie’s attempt to find out her husband’s motivations for sleeping with someone else becomes a real friendship, as the two support each other, and help each other through the tough time.

I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this audiobook. The narrators were Julia Whelan, George Newburn, James Daniels and Dara Rosenberg, although we only hear from the cheating spouses Ken and Janet through Carrie and David reading the letters which they have sent to each other. All the narrators were excellent and I really liked both David and Carrie, even though it was only a short story. It was interesting seeing their different reactions to the affair and their contrasting hopes for the future.

I would definitely read/listen to more by this author and recommend this book highly.

 

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Last year I read ‘The Rosie Project’ by Graeme Simsion – a hugely enjoyable book, of which you can see my review here. This book is the follow-up, and sees Don and Rosie now living in New York, and Rosie pregnant. In addition, Don’s friend Gene has broken up with his wife and comes to New York to stay with them – which doesn’t please Rosie.

Don is shaken by Rosie’s pregnancy as it was not planned, and Rosie is worried about Don’s suitability as a father. The couple find themselves facing problems which they are not sure how to work out.

Although Don’s character has grown slightly since the first book, he is still painfully literally and brutally honest, which often leads to misunderstandings or offence. The book is narrated by Don, so we do see his point of view in a way which we wouldn’t if it were told in the third person…that said, it would be interesting to see the same events from Rosie’s side!

I enjoyed the book a lot, but probably not as much as the first one. For a while the story seemed to go round in circles, and I just wanted it to be resolved one way or the other. However, there were still plenty of humorous moments – and indeed some touching moments – which kept my interest. Overall I would say that if you enjoyed the first book, you should give this one a try.

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If you knew your future…would you want to change it?

Jess Mount logs onto Facebook one day, and is horrified to see tributes to her posted from 18 months in the future, suggesting that she has died. Is there some kind of magic at work? It is an evil prank, or is Jess losing her mind? As she falls into a whirlwind romance with a new boyfriend, she hurtles towards her seemingly unstoppable fate and wonders if she can do something to change it. But when her timeline shows her that she has a child and she falls in love with her future son, she wonders if she even wants to change the future…

I thought this book had a really interesting premise and started out well. I would definitely say that the writing flowed well and made it an easy read despite some of the subject matter. However, I started to get annoyed with Jess quite early on, especially as all the important plot points were so clearly signposted and there were so many obvious things she could have done, but didn’t even think about (if and when you read this book, that sentence will make so much more sense!) I’m not sure that we ever really got to know Jess or her new boyfriend Lee, which made it harder to empathise with her. The story is told mainly from Jess’s point of view, with the occasional chapter written from the point of view of Lee’s mom Angela (who I couldn’t stand). There were also the Facebook posts and private messages, which somehow didn’t work for me; it was clear that they were there to fill in details for the reader, which meant that people said things that simply did not ring true. Intermittently, there were chapters from 2008 – eight years before the book is set – which take place just after Jess’s mother passed away, and I’m not sure what these added to the plot or if they were even necessary.

Most annoying to me was the fact that the Facebook posts were never explained. This just felt like laziness on the part of the author, and the ending was so quick that it felt rushed out.

I wouldn’t say I hated this book – I’d probably try another book by the same author – but I don’t feel that it lived up to it’s early promise.

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I’ve never read anything by Jane Fallon before, but there must be something about her book covers that appeals because I have no less than three of her books on my shelves! I’m not a big fan of chick-lit, because it’s generally utterly predictable and fairly bland, but I had a feeling this would have a bit more bite to it, and I was right.

Tamsin and Michelle have been best friends forever, and would do anything for each other. So when Tamsin gets a hint that Michelle’s husband Patrick is cheating, she asks her good friend and work assistant Bea to proposition him in  a ‘honey trap’ situation so that she can catch Patrick out. However – and as we discover from the very first page – things don’t go to plan.

The first third of the book is narrated purely from Tamsin’s point of view, and if I’m honest, it took me a while to get into and I was starting to feel a bit blah about the whole thing. Then the narration starts to switch between Tamsin and Bea, and it picked up a lot. Considerably in fact, to the point where I found myself waiting for when I could pick the book up again.

Some parts are completely predictable and if I’m honest, some the characters are pretty stereotypical – Patrick is a bit of a pantomime villain, while Michelle is almost sickeningly sweet. I found it difficult initially to warm to Tamsin, but she grew on me throughout the book. There is a lot of humour though, and ultimately a lot of heart in this book. It’s a fairly undemanding read, and the ending did surprise me, but in a good way.

Overall I’m glad I stuck with it and I am looking forward to reading more  by Jane Fallon.

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