Tag Archives: General reading

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne

The Boy in the Striped PyjamasI read The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas while on the train, travelling from Bedford to Nottingham, on the day I was travelling there to start my new job three months ago. The train journey is only an hour & a half, but luckily, this isn’t a very thick book (it’s only 214 pages long), so I had read most of it before I arrived at my destination. This is such a great book, that upon arriving, because I was sooo close to finishing, I had all I could do to not just sit on the train & finish this book. I really wouldn’t have cared if the train had left the station with me on it still – I needed to finish reading this book!

Luckily, sense prevailed & I waited until I got to my hotel room to finish devouring The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas. I was not disappointed!

For those of you who might not have read this book yet, I suggest that you do so. When I had bought this the movie had already come out, so there was lots of hype surrounding it. I have yet to see the movie & I’m not sure that I ever will. I really don’t see how any Hollywood celluloid facsimile could ever live up to the printed version of this story. It is heart-wrenching, thought-provoking and generally a brilliant read. If you do choose to read this, please try to avoid reading any reviews about it. (& try to avoid the soft cover versions of the book as they give the plot away, which the hard cover doesn’t. The hardcover lets you read this book as it’s intended – innocently, like a child.) You will be taken in by it. You will love it (which may seem odd, given the subject matter), you may well cry (I did) & you sure will be left both thinking & talking about this very poignant book. That’s no bad thing!

My understanding is that this book has been marketed as a children’s book. Well, I think that the subject matter would be lost on anyone under 10, I would recommend it for older children, though. I can easily see this becoming a book that is read in classrooms, much like when we read “To Kill A Mockingbird” when I was at school. I can easily see this becoming the kind of book that parents & teens read & discuss together, which, I think, is as it should be!


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A Lifetime Burning by Linda Gillard

A Lifetime BurningI would like to start by saying that I have been struggling with writing this review since the 7th of August. It isn’t that I didn’t like A Lifetime Burning, I am just not sure that I can put into words the emotions this book aroused in me. It is a brilliantly written book about some very sensitive subjects & to borrow from a review I read by Michelle Moore on Amazon.co.uk

“This is a book that will grab your attention from the very first page, and each chapter leaves you wanting to know more. Although it keeps you turning the pages, there were times when I had to put it down, and take a deep breath, before picking it back and getting absorbed again. There are issues explored here that aren’t easy to read, but they are handled in a way that means you can take that deep breath and carry on.”

A Lifetime Burning is the third of Linda Gillard’s books which I have read & while I loved it, I am so glad that it is not the first one I read. The subject matter is, well, difficult & somewhat controversial, but do not let that put you off reading this book. I am pretty certain that this is one I will not be passing on to my Mom to read, though.

A Lifetime Burning follows the lives of the Dunbar Family, specifically the relationship of twins Rory & Flora & the impact their relationship has on the other members of their family & the people around them. Flora and Rory start out life with an amazing connection that only twins could have & they seem to be the yin to the others yang, something each of the other must have for their world, their life to be complete. Early into their lives it is demonstrated to us that theirs is no simple sibling relationship. Flora is the beauty & Rory the brains, Flora is the bad one & Rory is the good. Flora is the extrovert, Rory the introvert. But, even these are not 100% accurate. Yes, Rory is an introvert, but he is also egomaniacal, demanding, & destructive (especially where his sister is concerned). Flora may be the beauty, who  also has a brain in her head, but because of Rory’s musical prowess, her intellect seems to take a distant back seat when it comes to  the family’s recollecting on the twins’ attributes/abilities.

Flora grew up thinking that she was a bad person, that everyone knew she was good for nothing & managed to do everything in her power to live up to that estimation. Rory grew up knowing that he was the “chosen” child, that he had the world in the palm of his hand & grew up with the attitude to accompany that knowledge.

I honestly think that Rory being sent away for school was the beginning of the end for both he & Flora. They needed to be a constant presence in each other’s lives & I think that them being seperated from each other is what inevitably lead to their relationship becoming what it did & their lives becoming what they did, ultimately leading to Flora’s death & her funeral, which is where the book begins.

A Lifetime Burning was an emotionally charged read for me, but one that I am so glad I read!


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Dexter in the Dark ~ by Jeff Lindsay

Dexter in the DarkDexter in the Dark is the third installment in the Dexter series (of which the TV series is loosely based). I have read the first two books & loved them, but have to admit that I was more than a little wary about reading this one, as I had heard a few bad things about it. I needn’t have worried quite so much! This was by no means Mr. Lindsay’s best novel to date – the second in the series was far & away the best so far. The second book had me hooked, unable to put it down &  it had me laughing out loud in so many places. This book made me chuckle, and I really enjoyed reading it, but it just wasn’t as good as the previous offering.

There was nothing overtly wrong with this book, but it just didn’t live up to Dearly Devoted Dexter. This books sees Dexter lose his Dark Passenger after attending a murder scene where a couple of bodies are found in gruesome circumstances. The rest of the book is centred around Dexter trying to find what has made his Dark Passenger disappear, while preparing for his upcoming wedding & trying to figure out how he is going to keep up his hobby if/when his Dark Passenger returns, while being the “upstanding married man citizen” he is trying to make people believe he is.

Dexter in the Dark , while not as good a read as Dearly Devoted Dexter, it still made me laugh out loud in places & chuckle in others, just not as much as I had hoped, based on the previous offering. If you have read the first two books & have heard bad reviews about this one, I would say – don’t listen to the reviews, just read the book & judge for yourself. I read it & have no regrets about having done so.

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The Coffin Dancer ~ by Jeffery Deaver

the-coffin-dancer1I bought The Coffin Dancer a few weeks ago after a trip into The Works (I really should avoid this place!). I had innocently strolled into the store for a quick browse & was almost immediately attacked by 4 books demanding that I buy them “or else”! They were insistent little buggers, too! So, buy them I did & luckily it only set me back £8.50 for 4 books. Bargain, really, lol 🙂

I had been fairly confident I’d already read The Coffin Dancer, but couldn’t for the life of me remember any of the story, so managed to convince myself that maybe I hadn’t read it after all. Which is why this one sat on my sofa un-touched for a few weeks, until a few of the girls from the Book Club Forum started talking about the fact that they were going to read this at the same time as each other, so I thought “Why not join them?” – so I did.

The blurb from the back of the book:

The most dangerous and elusive hitman in the world is visiting New York City – on business………..

Percey Clay, one of America’s foremost pilots and the uncompromising owner of a struggling charter flight service, was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Now she’s the target of the Coffin Dancer.

Brilliant quadriplegic criminalist Lincoln Rhyme knows the killer only too well. He’s the man who’s raised murder to a form of high art; who’s deadliest weapons aren’t guns or knives but his uncanny knowledge of human nature…

And Rhyme must combat both the hitman’s amoral genius and Percey’s headstrong determination if he is to save her.

And keep himself alive.

It turns out that I had indeed read The Coffin Dancer already, but even though I knew this it didn’t take away from the enjoyment of the book & even though I vaguely remembered what was going to happen, Deaver still managed to surprise me with a few of his classic “you think you know what’s happening, but I’m about to prove to you that you’re sadly mistaken” twists, which made the book all the more enjoyable. The Coffin Dancer is the second in the Lincoln Rhyme series of books (the 1st is The Bone Collector, which I read a few years back, after having seen the movie that’s based on the book) & in my opinion, the better of the 2 novels.

The Coffin Dancer  sees Rhyme & the cast from The Bone Collector gather in pursuit of the Coffin Dancer (so called because of a tattoo that the Dancer has on his arm) – a for-hire hitman, who has been hired to kill 3 people who witnessed a crime & are now material witnesses in a trial. The book follows the team as they try to hunt down the Dancer, hopefully preventing him from killing the witnesses. Deaver, the master of the unexpected twist, has written a masterpiece here & it is one I thoroughly enjoyed re-reading!

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A Bend in the Road ~ By Nicholas Sparks

a-bend-in-the-roadI am not a big reader of “romance” type novels, quite the opposite, in fact! There’s nothing better in a book, in my humble opinion, than a bit of murder, mayhem & a lot of mystery, but I do feel that there is a time & a place in my life for these books. If you are a romance reader & have never read any of Nicolas Sparks  novels, then I can heartily say that you should! I have only read one other of his novels, Message in a Bottle, & I have seen The Notebook (which is one of the few movies to ever make me cry) so I had a rough idea of what to expect & I wasn’t disappointed.

A Bend in the Road follows the story of New Bern, South Carolina Deputy Sheriff, Miles Ryan & New Bern primary school teacher Sarah Andrews. Miles lost his wife, Missy in a hit-&-run accident & 2 years later was still trying to deal with the aftermath & at the same time raise his young son, Jonah. Sarah is a primary school teacher who as a recently divorcee has left behind her life in Baltimore, to start anew in New Bern.

They meet for the first time at a parent-teacher meeting about Jonah & for Sarah at least, there are instant sparks. Slowly Miles & Sarah being to develop their feelings for each other not knowing there is a secret lying undiscovered down the road that is going to blow apart everything & force them to question everything they believe in. Can their fledgeling relationship survive?

A Bend in the Road is a nice lovely, easy read & one I would definitely recommend you read!

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