Monthly Archives: December 2014

BOOK REVIEW – To Let by Carla Kovach

To Let

What should have been a compelling read was spoiled for me by the multitude of spelling, grammatical and syntax errors! The lack of visible editing made this book very challenging for me to finish.

That said, the idea is good, although not very well implemented. I guessed the ‘who’ and the ‘why’ about halfway through, but couldn’t figure out the ‘how’, which is what kept me reading until the very end.

The book opens with a diary entry from 1991. A troubled teen records her ordeal of being bullied and how she has decided to retaliate at the ringleader. It’s a chilling example of a disturbed and calculated individual who has been driven to drastic action by being treated in a way she can no longer tolerate.

The story continues 10 years later. Libby has fled her cheating boyfriend and is moving into an apartment that her beloved sister Olly has heard is to let. Her landlord (and neighbour) Tim is nice; maybe a bit odd, but aren’t we all in some way or another? Her downstairs neighbours Jess and Kirsty are pleasant and easy going. The only neighbour she never sees is the elusive Mr Bull directly downstairs from her apartment. However, there are the occasional loud noises emanating from his home that make Libby uneasy.

To add to her uneasiness, her ex-boyfriend Gary persists in constantly sending her messages and trying anything he can to convince her he still loves her and wants her back. Libby is under increasing pressure at work, including having to deal with a violent and unpredictable employee. So it’s no wonder that she is prone to bouts of crying and exhaustion as it all becomes too much to manage, and Libby starts to think she is experiencing bouts of paranoia. Add to the mix, Ricardo, who arrives from Naples to look for his daughter Bettina, who was the previous tenant of Libby’s apartment, but seems to have disappeared.

The story twists and turns towards its ending, where it really gets completely out of hand and enters the realms of the unbelievable and improbable. It’s really dragged out and I couldn’t help skipping large chunks, just to get to the conclusion.

A book that starts off with great promise fails to deliver in the end due to poor execution (excuse the pun!).

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51 of the Most Beautiful Sentences in Literature

http://www.buzzfeed.com/jenniferschaffer/i-am-i-am-i-am

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Book Review – The Memory Box by Eva Lesko Natiello

The memory box

This book starts off with such promise, excitement and suspense, but then quickly deteriorates into the most ridiculous, improbable story I’ve read in a long time. If you can suspend belief for the duration of this book, then you’ll be ok; if not, then I suggest you don’t start it in the first place!

Caroline is a seemingly average suburban housewife, mother of two, and wannabe writer. Apparently the hobby of the moment amongst her fellow school moms is Googling yourself, which Caroline does, with minimal results. But then for some odd reason, she decides to Google herself under her maiden name, and discovers a whole life that she has conveniently forgotten all about!

And all of a sudden, out of the blue, she finds herself in a downward spiral of such epic proportions you’d think someone would notice and intervene. But strangely, even though there is something slightly unnerving about Caroline’s sudden jittery behaviour, nobody really seems to pay that much attention to it. Her husband, children and friends all seem to go along with her unexplained ‘accidents’ (falling down and visibly injuring herself), and her chronic tiredness and constant need to sleep!

You’d think with all the bizarre discoveries Caroline has made (her sister, who she adored, has been dead for years, something she has no recollection of!), she would confide in someone close to her, like her husband maybe? Why wouldn’t she want the reassurance of someone close to her, who would be able to support and comfort her? This is never explained, and for some reason, Caroline does quite the opposite, not wanting to talk to anyone about her discoveries.

Instead she tries to stumble around (literally) on her own, uncovering things about her past that she claims she didn’t know. She seeks out Dr Sullivan, a psychiatrist who treated her and her family in this shadowy life she’s forgotten. She hears evidence of a vacuous, self-absorbed mother, who clearly had doubts about Caroline’s relationship with reality from when she was a child. But just as those in her present life are currently doing, back then her mother also did nothing about dealing with the issues that presented themselves.

Yes, there’s a big twist at the end which you’re expecting all along. You don’t exactly know how it’s all going to work out but you know that twist is coming, and this is pretty much all that kept me reading until the end. Even then, it still didn’t sit quite right for me. I know that fiction is meant to be just that, but you really need to stretch all the bounds of reality for this one.

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BOOK REVIEW – Gateway of India by Ken Doyle

Gateway of India

There are books about heroes and heroines overcoming all odds in missions to save themselves, their families, even the entire human race! And then there are books like this one, with everyday people going about their business and simply trying to do their best to help whoever may cross their paths. Honestly, I prefer the latter. They’re far more realistic with characters with whom it’s much easier to identify.

Doyle had compiled a collection of three interlinked stories that offer us a glimpse into the lives and challenges of his characters. There’s the good-hearted doctor, Frank Rebello and his wife Maria, leaving Bombay for reasons known only to themselves; Rebello’s willing assistant, Suketulal, trying to make the best of things after the Rebello’s leave, and his cousin, Police Inspector Pathak, bound by his sense of duty to both his boss and his demanding wife.

In the first story, Dr Frank Rebello is torn between leaving his thriving medical practice in bustling Bombay, and escaping to retirement in quiet, coastal Calangute. Almost immediately he is presented with a proposition that he finds hard to resist. Will he, or won’t he?

The second story introduces us in more detail to Dr Rabello’s assistant Suketulal, who remains in Bombay when his boss departs. With his circumstances now changed, not necessarily for the best, Suketulal is still attempting to make the best of things, and trying to live life according to the lessons he learned from the Doctor he was so fond of. Will things work to his advantage?

The third story offers us more insight into the life of Inspector Pathak, Suketulal’s cousin. Pathak is just your average man, doing what he can to appease his boss and family, while also tentatively pushing the boundaries to see how he can get ahead.

Doyle’s descriptions epitomise the bustling, teeming life that is Bombay, whilst at the same time building characters who are truly gentle by nature.

This is a very enjoyable, quick read.

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BOOK REVIEW – Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult

Where there's smoke Leaving Timelarger than life

A new Jodi Picoult book always causes a stir amongst book lovers, especially her stalwart fans.  I haven’t read all of her books, but I’ve read enough to know that she specialises in that ‘punch in the solar-plexus, OMG, A-ha moment’ right at the end of her novels.  ‘Leaving Time’ is no different!

Picoult’s approach to this novel was quite unique. One of her pivotal characters was introduced in a brief prequel called ‘Where There’s Smoke’, cleverly offered as a free e-book on Amazon some months before the release of the main novel. So it’s here that we’re introduced to psychic Serenity Jones at her finest. She’s the presenter of her own TV show, and darling of the media … until disaster strikes. In the e-book novella ‘Larger than Life’ we meet Alice, and learn about her genuine love for the elephants she researches.

When we meet Serenity again, in ‘Leaving Time’ she is a washed up has-been trying to make a living from giving fake readings to those desperate to contact loved ones on the ‘other side’.

Enter 13-year-old Jenna Metcalf , who is Alice’s daughter and who now lives with her grandmother after her mom’s , disappearance 10 years previously. Jenna’s trying to find out what happened to her mom on the night that a tragedy befell the elephant sanctuary where she worked and lived, and she’s absolutely certain that Serenity’s the only one who can help her.  The incident left elephant carer, Nevvie, dead and Jenna’s father institutionalised.

To ensure that all her bases are covered, Jenna also enlists the help of Victor (now calling himself Virgil) Stanhope, ex-cop and present day Private Investigator. And what a coincidence, Stanhope worked the case the night that Alice disappeared!

Together this unlikely trio (for Virgil and Serenity are not fond of each other) pool their resources as best they can to get to the bottom of what actually happened that night at the elephant sanctuary, that would have made Alice want to leave the child she loved so much.

Picoult’s narrative is once again rich and descriptive. Alice’s chapters and the explanations of her research into grief in elephants are absolutely captivating. The writing is lyrical and even though I previously did not have any great interest in elephants and their habits, I found the descriptions given here absolutely fascinating.

‘Leaving Time’ is one of those books that you’ll stay up reading late into the night, impatient to learn what exactly happened to Alice all those years ago. And undoubtedly, the twist will leave you gobsmacked. And then you’ll want to go back to the beginning to start again, and check that you didn’t miss anything! This is a book that will stay with you long after you’ve finished it.

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