Category: Book Reviews

Book Review – Beneath the Earth by John Boyne

This is a book of twelve shorts stories and I read this book in two days. And that is going it some for me as I am a normally a slow reader but loved it so much I just couldn’t stop reading.

The themes are interesting, mysterious and dark and one of them even written in the second person – You don’t come across that every day. The style of writing is humorous and funny and not wishing to give you too much of a disturbing image, but I was reading this book whilst lying in the bath and my wife was beginning to wonder who I had in there with me when she could hear me laughing  to myself behind the locked door.

Great booked loved it and totally recommend this one.

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This is the first John Boyne book I have read and have noted ‘Must read more of his!’

Book Review -Heroes by Robert Cormier

This is an excellent story with a dark theme running through it. The book starts with the protagonist, Francis Cassavant describing his injuries and how his face is disfigured from injuries after returning home from the war. He returns a hero, although he hides his identity as he has mission to enact a plan to the kill the man who only he knows of his evil.

The story moves back to before the war when Larry Lasalle arrives in Frenchtown and is loved by everyone. He has a style about him that everyone admires. There is however something that Larry tries to hide from them all, but in his weakness fails to control himself, and here his dark morality is eventually revealed. Larry then leaves the town to fight for his country and becomes a war hero as well as Francis.

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Eventually Francis confronts Larry and his true nature is revealed. This is an extremely moving story, with a strong theme of deception and how someone’s image can hide a multitude of sins. This is a great book that raising a lot of questions.

Book Review – After The Storm by Jane Lythell

This book is one you can sit back with and get totally absorbed into the atmosphere of the setting. I found myself pulled into the pages on a tranquil wave lazing on the deck of a boat, in the beautiful Caribbean sun, but every now and then there was a sense of unease that alerts you to the more sinister unveilings that are to come. It focuses on four main characters and starts in Belize City when Rob and Anna meet Owen and Kim who have their own boat. Rob and Anna decide to charter the boat and the three of them set off on a journey from Belize to Roatán a small island off the northern coast of Honduras.

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The characters gradually build throughout with each exposing flaws as time sails on making them believable and real. A combination of the setting that is cleverly portrayed envelopes a feeling you are there and with the strong character depiction the plot drifts along that as the reader you roll with it needing to know what happens next. This is a psychological thriller that is definitely worth a read as it builds to it climactic ending.

Book Review – The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

The Girl on the Train is Paula Hawkins debut novel and what an amazing book to kick off with. The only problem Hawkins has now created is keeping up the standards for future novels.

This story concentrates around the main character of Rachel Watson who travels to London on her regular commute by train. Every day it stops at a signal that overlooks the residential back garden of Megan and Scott; she imagines the perfect life of the couple who she has never met. This is contrary to her own life where her marriage had failed with her husband leaving her for another woman. Rachel’s life is in a decline with alcohol problems that add to the mystery of the story with the blackouts that she sometimes experiences.

One day Rachel is shocked to see Megan kissing another man and feels anger at Megan for what she has done to Scott. Following a night of heavy drinking Rachel wakes and finds herself with blood stains and injuries on herself with no memory of where these came from or how she had managed to get them.  This is followed by the news that Megan has gone missing and this is the start of a journey of intrigue and suspense.

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This book kept me guessing all the way leading me one way and then another. Perfectly executed to the very end and a great read and one I wanted to add to my recommendations. I now wait impatiently for the next novel from Paula Hawkins.

Get a copy of The Girl on the Train by clicking here

Book Review – A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

The story starts with Miriam a young girl, the illegitimate daughter of a wealthy businessman, living a secluded life with her mother on the outskirts of Herat, Afghanistan. Mariam, grows to womanhood, and is forced into marriage with Rasheed and moves to the unfamiliar surroundings of Kabul where we are introduced to Laila. Laila is just nine years old and lives near to Miriam. She has been brought up by her father who has provided Laila with a loving upbringing and good education.

Events in the women’s lives are destined to merge. The story gives the reader an insight into life as a woman in Kabul and the oppression and struggles under the Soviet occupation, followed by the Taliban rule. Khaled Hosseini draws you in with the development of the characters so much you feel the emotion, joys and pains as it unravels in this classic novel.

a-thousand-splendid-suns-facebook-coverKhaled Hosseini is author of the best selling novel The Kite Runner and does not disappoint with A Thousand Splendid Suns. This is an exceptionally gripping and brilliantly crafted read that you will not be able to put down.

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I highly recommend this book, with my star rating of 11 out of 10, and one you should definitely add to your list of ‘must reads’.

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Book Review – Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith

The struggle and fear people experienced in the Soviet Union is graphically brought to life with such skill in Tom Rob Smith’s novel Child 44 set in 1953 shortly before Stalin’s death. The main character Leo Demidov world is shattered, his job and relationship with his wife are thrown into turmoil following the death of a young boy the parents believe to have been murdered. Leo from being a war hero and having a successful career as an officer in the Ministry of State Security, and enjoying life’s luxuries that come with the job, suddenly becomes an enemy of the state in Stalin’s perfect communist society where there can be no crime as this plague only happens in the capitalist west.

The book follows Leo and his wife’s struggle to bring justice in pursuit of a serial killer in a world of corruption where the image and structure is more important than truth and fairness. The story based loosely on the real life crimes of Andrei Chikatilo in a later decade to what the book is set manages to capture and convey the events incomprehensible to someone who has not lived in that time and place.

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A sub plot to the main story I wanted to add a note on is, the romantic element between Leo and his wife Raisa as this has not appeared much in other reviews. This is a great love story where emotions and realities of their relationship are revealed.

Child 44 is exciting, emotional and of historical interest and one I will add to my bookshelf to read again.

To get a copy of Child 44 click here