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The Thread for Book Lovers July to December 2018

Started by: twoleftfeet
On: 01/07/2018 | 19:50
Replies: 95
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by: twoleftfeet
on: 28/12/2018 | 20:31

December Book Review

Jack Dawkins by Terry Ward

3 Star

Brief Overview - What becomes of The Artful Dodger after the events of Oliver Twist

 

Click to reveal

Synopsis from Goodreads: After Oliver Twist intervenes to save Jack Dawkins – the legendary Artful Dodger – from transportation to Botany Bay, Jack embarks on what proves to be a perilous quest to discover his roots. Before he can say ‘Fagin!’ he’s battling to survive a devastating flood and rescue beautiful black-haired, green-eyed Lysette Godden, the girl of his dreams, from the hands of murderous villains. Jack and Lysette, searching for Jack’s parents, head to France and have an adventure there which tests their mettle and mutual love to the utmost and changes their lives for ever.

Brilliantly and evocatively written, Jack Dawkins is a worthy sequel to Charles Dickens’s immortal masterpiece Oliver Twist.

My Thoughts:  I actually had the pleasure of meeting the author Terry Ward at this year’s Christmas Dickens Festival in Rochester (that’s Rochester England in case you were wondering) where he was suitable dressed up in Dickensian coat, tails and hat. Unfortunately for him as he was telling me he had more enquiries for the location of the toilets than he did about the book which is a real shame as it is an ideal read for the festive period. Needless to say I purchased myself a signed copy and unlike most books I purchase I have actually put aside the time to lose myself in the story.

I am ashamed to say that despite having read “Oliver Twist” I can’t actually remember the character of the Artful Dodger instead what I can remember comes from the numerous film and TV adaptations. Based on my memories Jack Dawkins in this book comes across as more of a “good boy” than he is in the adaptations that said he is not squeaky clean and he does get up to plenty of mischief. Jack is highly intelligent, picks up languages easily and like other Dickens characters he is primed for his conversion from street urchin to respectable citizen.

In the Dickens tradition this book involves several incredible coincidences, there are deceptions, good behaviour is rewarded, the bad are suitably punished and everything works out in the end even if it works out  in unexpected ways.

I enjoyed the references to characters from other works by Dickens although I didn’t catch them all, however for any you miss there is a handy reference section at the end of the book that tells the reader what they may have missed.

Overall this was an enjoyable way to spend an evening or 2.

Who would like this? The story is told in the first person which I know some readers don’t enjoy however if you don’t mind this kind of narration and you love everything Dickens (and who doesn’t?) then I would recommend giving this a go. The writing is more accessible than the original Dickens stories however that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, just don’t go into this expecting the same level of writing as the man himself. There is some racist language used about the French but I am putting this down to a nod to the times when the story is set rather than any wish to offend, you have been warned.

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Message 91 of 96
by: twoleftfeet
on: 30/12/2018 | 11:14

December Book Review

You Were Gone by Tim Weaver

3 Stars

Brief Overview - thriller where a woman claiming to be Raker's dead wife appears but who is telling the truth?

 

Click to reveal

This ARC was provided by Penguin UK (via NetGalley) in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis from Goodreads: Three days after Christmas, a woman walks into a police station. She has no phone and no ID, just a piece of paper with the name of investigator David Raker on it. She tells officers that Raker is her husband.

SHE SAYS SHE'S MY WIFE.

When he turns up at the station, Raker is stunned. The woman looks exactly like his wife. She knows all about their marriage, their history, even private conversations the two of them had. There's just one problem: Raker's wife has been dead for eight years.

MY WIFE DIED . . . DIDN'T SHE?

The woman tells the police that Raker had a breakdown. A respected doctor backs up her account. Items are missing that prove Raker's side of the story - and, worst of all, he soon becomes the prime suspect in a disappearance.

SHE'S EITHER A LIAR - OR I AM.

Could Raker have imagined their whole marriage? Is he delusional? Is this really the woman he loved and grieved for? Hunted by the police, Raker will have to find out the truth before it costs him everything - his memories, his sanity, his life . . .
 

My Thoughts: When I requested this ARC I didn't actually realise it was book 9 in an ongoing series I am normally completely **bleep** and will only read a series in order however as I was already behind with my reviews I decided to take the plunge...

Personally I don't feel that I missed out on anything major not having read the other books in the series, in fact in some ways it added to the suspense and the book can definitely be read as a stand alone. I think it was easier for me to question Raker's state of mind having only read this book than it would have been if I already had a reader's relationship with him.

As this is a thriller there is not much you can write in a review without giving away spoilers so here are my very basic thoughts - I really enjoyed the first half of the book, I loved the fact that the unreliable narrator was a man and that even he wasn't sure if he was reliable or not, I also liked the fact that the police officer who deals with Raker is an intelligent woman who is prepared to cross certain lines to solve the case. When it comes to the second half and the resolution of the mystery I felt that things were way too unbelievable, there is a massive conspiracy and events for this book actually have their roots in the past I get that really this is the only way events could have played out but I just couldn't suspend disbelief enough to just go with it.

Overall this was a fast paced read that did keep me guessing even if I ended up rolling my eyes a lot in the second half.

Who would like this? I would say anyone who has already read the rest of the series and anyone who likes Jonathan Kellerman thrillers as this has the same kind of feel to it. If you don't mind your thrillers being on the wrong side of credulity this could also suit you.

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Message 92 of 96
by: jesi23
on: 30/12/2018 | 12:17

@twoleftfeet Like you, I prefer to read any ‘series’ in order (I have been known to save books and order the ‘missing’ issues before starting … and then to read straight through without a break), so this might have frustrated me … 

Click to reveal

@twoleftfeet wrote:

December Book Review

You Were Gone by Tim Weaver

3 Stars

Brief Overview - thriller where a woman claiming to be Raker's dead wife appears but who is telling the truth?

 

Click to reveal

This ARC was provided by Penguin UK (via NetGalley) in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis from Goodreads: Three days after Christmas, a woman walks into a police station. She has no phone and no ID, just a piece of paper with the name of investigator David Raker on it. She tells officers that Raker is her husband.

SHE SAYS SHE'S MY WIFE.

When he turns up at the station, Raker is stunned. The woman looks exactly like his wife. She knows all about their marriage, their history, even private conversations the two of them had. There's just one problem: Raker's wife has been dead for eight years.

MY WIFE DIED . . . DIDN'T SHE?

The woman tells the police that Raker had a breakdown. A respected doctor backs up her account. Items are missing that prove Raker's side of the story - and, worst of all, he soon becomes the prime suspect in a disappearance.

SHE'S EITHER A LIAR - OR I AM.

Could Raker have imagined their whole marriage? Is he delusional? Is this really the woman he loved and grieved for? Hunted by the police, Raker will have to find out the truth before it costs him everything - his memories, his sanity, his life . . .
 

My Thoughts: When I requested this ARC I didn't actually realise it was book 9 in an ongoing series I am normally completely **bleep** and will only read a series in order however as I was already behind with my reviews I decided to take the plunge...

Personally I don't feel that I missed out on anything major not having read the other books in the series, in fact in some ways it added to the suspense and the book can definitely be read as a stand alone. I think it was easier for me to question Raker's state of mind having only read this book than it would have been if I already had a reader's relationship with him.

As this is a thriller there is not much you can write in a review without giving away spoilers so here are my very basic thoughts - I really enjoyed the first half of the book, I loved the fact that the unreliable narrator was a man and that even he wasn't sure if he was reliable or not, I also liked the fact that the police officer who deals with Raker is an intelligent woman who is prepared to cross certain lines to solve the case. When it comes to the second half and the resolution of the mystery I felt that things were way too unbelievable, there is a massive conspiracy and events for this book actually have their roots in the past I get that really this is the only way events could have played out but I just couldn't suspend disbelief enough to just go with it.

Overall this was a fast paced read that did keep me guessing even if I ended up rolling my eyes a lot in the second half.

Who would like this? I would say anyone who has already read the rest of the series and anyone who likes Jonathan Kellerman thrillers as this has the same kind of feel to it. If you don't mind your thrillers being on the wrong side of credulity this could also suit you.

I think I prefer my thrillers being on the right side of credulity, as well! Although, if I had been reading the series and wanted to know what came next, I might have read it anyway … although, it might have ended up as the LAST book in the series for me?

Thank you for your reviewing this for us! Are you starting a new thread for the next payback period?

 

Jes 🤡

 

Please don't forget to come back after your problem has been resolved and select a best answer.
Also consider a kudos [+★] for any member who helped.
Message 93 of 96
by: twoleftfeet
on: 31/12/2018 | 21:12
@jesi23 yes there is a new thread I will add link here tomorrow Smiley Happy
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Message 94 of 96
by: twoleftfeet
on: 31/12/2018 | 21:14

December Book Review

The Heart's Invisible Furies by John Boyne

4 Stars

Brief Overview - Irish family saga about an adopted gay man

 

Click to reveal

This ARC was provided by Random House UK (via NetGalley) in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis from Goodreads: Cyril Avery is not a real Avery or at least that’s what his adoptive parents tell him. And he never will be. But if he isn’t a real Avery, then who is he?

Born out of wedlock to a teenage girl cast out from her rural Irish community and adopted by a well-to-do if eccentric Dublin couple via the intervention of a hunchbacked Redemptorist nun, Cyril is adrift in the world, anchored only tenuously by his heartfelt friendship with the infinitely more glamourous and dangerous Julian Woodbead.

At the mercy of fortune and coincidence, he will spend a lifetime coming to know himself and where he came from – and over his three score years and ten, will struggle to discover an identity, a home, a country and much more.

In this, Boyne's most transcendent work to date, we are shown the story of Ireland from the 1940s to today through the eyes of one ordinary man. The Heart's Invisible Furies is a novel to make you laugh and cry while reminding us all of the redemptive power of the human spirit.

My Thoughts: This book has everything it made me laugh and it made me cry but on the whole for me at least there were more smiles than tears.

This is the story of one man Cyril Avery and the people in his life who influence the man he is to become. The story begins in the 40's when Cyril's unmarried pregnant mother is banished from her home village by the local priest. Katherine is not your typical pregnant teenager and she has already decided how she intends to deal with the situation, when the baby is born she gives him up for adoption and from then on we follow the baby Cyril as he grows and becomes a man.

Cyril's journey to adulthood is not easy, he is a gay man living in Ireland at a time when this is very much frowned upon and the chances of an open relationship are practically zero. We follow Cyril as he falls in love, discovers sex, makes some truly stupid decisions, suffers lose and finally finds peace with himself.

While the story is Cyril's it is also a story about the changing attitudes towards gay men as the years progress. Cyril lives through the AIDS crisis and all the prejudices this ignites and finally sees Ireland vote to allow gay marriage something his younger self could never have envisioned.

While some may accuse of Cyril of being selfish I actually really liked him, I found his self depreciating sense of humour endearing and I could fully understand why he did what he did even if I didn't agree with his choices. In fact I think it is fair to say that I loved most of the characters in this epic saga.

Here are some of the one liners that had me smiling to myself:

"I mean what man is his right mind wants to have sex with his own wife?"

"It's just you never come home at this hour...you realise that it's still daylight out and the pubs are still open."

"But there was no real evidence, other than fingerprints, DNA and an eyewitness."

"Should I fall or have a heart attack, I could lie on the kitchen floor decomposing for weeks before anyone thought to come looking for me. I didn't even have a cat to eat me."

Who would like this? I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys a good family saga with all the ups and downs that entails.

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Message 95 of 96
Highlighted
by: twoleftfeet
on: 02/01/2019 | 18:32
Link to the next discussion thread for payback 1 2019 https://community.giffgaff.com/t5/General-Discussion/The-Thread-for-Book-Lovers-Jan-June-2019/m-p/22...
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Message 96 of 96