We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver Monday, Feb 20 2012 

Title: We Need To Talk About Kevin
Author: Lionel Shriver
ISBN: 1852428899
Publisher: Serpent’s Tail
First Published: 2003
No. of pages: 400

Rating: 1/5

Synopsis:
Two years ago, Eva Khatchadourian’s son, Kevin, murdered seven of his fellow high-school students, a cafeteria worker, and a popular algebra teacher. Because he was only fifteen at the time of the killings, he received a lenient sentence and is now in a prison for young offenders in upstate New York. Telling the story of Kevin’s upbringing, Eva addresses herself to her estranged husband through a series of letters. Fearing that her own shortcomings may have shaped what her son has become, she confesses to a deep, long-standing ambivalence about both motherhood in general and Kevin in particular. How much is her fault? Lionel Shriver tells a compelling, absorbing, and resonant story while framing these horrifying tableaux of teenage carnage as metaphors for the larger tragedy – the tragedy of a country where everything works, nobody starves, and anything can be bought but a sense of purpose.

Review:
If you’re planning on reading this book at all, please don’t read any further, as it really will spoil it for you – I’ll be talking about major plot revelations.

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The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold Wednesday, Jan 14 2009 

Title: The Lovely Bones
Author: Alice Sebold
ISBN: 0330485385
Rating: 1/5

Synopsis:
On her way home from school on a snowy December day, 14-year-old Susie Salmon is lured into a cornfield and brutally raped and murdered, the latest victim of a serial killer. The Lovely Bones, Alice Sebold’s debut novel, unfolds from heaven, where “life is a perpetual yesterday” and where Susie narrates and keeps watch over her grieving family and friends, as well as her brazen killer and the sad detective working on her case.

Review:
The front cover of The Time Traveler’s Wife reads “This is the next The Lovely Bones,” but if I’d read this one first, I never would have read the other and would then have missed out on a fantastic read. To be frank, I didn’t enjoy this book at all. I got incredibly angry at the stupidity of a 14-year-old girl who would allow herself to be drawn into such an obviously dangerous position. Even being set in the 70’s, it was the decade that The Yorkshire Ripper on the rampage in Britain, it’s hard to believe that over in America people didn’t take notice of what could happen.

Yes, I know that’s not terribly PC of me, but it’s how I felt reading it. I think perhaps I would have been able to get on better with the storyline if she’d been dragged, kicking and screaming into that underground room. Nobody deserves to get raped and murdered, but I couldn’t help but feel that she’d brought a lot of it on herself and that meant I was now feeling guilty too.

The other thing that I really thought was just a tad twee was the whole heaven thing. I just couldn’t get into the flow of the heavens as they were described. Now, I’m not saying I don’t think there’s anything after death; I’m not even saying I don’t think we all get our own personalized afterlife; I’m saying I just couldn’t get on board with the way this was written.

And then there’s the fact that, as the reader, you know exactly who the murderer is. The ghost of Susie, telling her story, knows exactly who her murderer is. Even her family knows exactly who her murderer is. The whole book is spent wondering when, if ever, the guilty man will be charged.

I found this book deeply disappointing from start to finish and I’ll admit to being relieved to finish it. In my opinion, there’s not really anything lovely about The Lovely Bones. I found nothing to recommend it.

Sorry, but I won’t be reading anything else Ms Sebold writes.

Storm Front by Jim Butcher Thursday, Jan 1 2009 

Title: Storm Front
Author: Jim Butcher
ISBN: 1841493988
Rating:
1/5

Synopsis:
Lost items found. Paranormal Investigations. Consulting. Reasonable rates. No Love Potions, Endless Purses, or Other Entertainment. Harry Dresden is the best and technically the ‘only’ at what he does. So when the Chicago P.D. has a case that transcends mortal capabilities, they come to him for answers. For the ‘everyday’ world is actually full of strange and magical things – and most of them don’t play well with humans. That’s where Harry comes in. Takes a wizard to catch a – well, whatever.

Review:
I can feel nothing but major disappointment over a book that took me the best part of a week to get through and yet was significantly less than 600 pages long. Let’s just say it’s not exactly a gripping read. I was 3/4 way through the bloody thing before anything really started happening and even then, it wasn’t terribly exciting – no page-turner!

Actually, having visited the official site of Jim Butcher, I wish I’d got hold of the talking book instead, as it appears to have been read by James Marsters (who I adore, even though he sounds like he’s putting on an accent when he speaks American, which is weird coz he’s American – I think I just got used to his British accent as Spike in Buffy the Vampire Slayer – LOL!).

Anyway, having wasted £6.99 on this book, I can’t see me picking up the following six sequels as I was bored from start to finish.

If you want a really well-written, gripping tale of murder, mystery & magick, you’re far better off getting hold of the Rowan Gant Mysteries by M R Sellars.

Falling Sideways by Tom Holt Wednesday, Dec 31 2008 

Title: Falling Sideways
Author: Tom Holt
ISBN: 1841490873
Rating: 1/5

Synopsis:
From the moment Homo Sapiens descended from the trees, possibly onto their heads, humanity has striven for civilization. Fire. The Wheel. Running away from furry things with big teeth. All would be testament to man’s ascendancy; if one man didn’t believe every civilization is actually run by frogs.

Review:
It took what felt like forever to read this hideously tedious book. I’ll admit to not exactly being a Tom Holt fan. I want to be, as everyone always says “If you like Pratchett, you’ll love Holt”, but that simply isn’t so – I adore Pratchett but so far I’ve only been able to find one book by Tom Holt that I even remotely came close to enjoying and it wasn’t this book, it was Snow White & the Seven Samurai.

Falling Sidewaysis a confusing jumble of nonsense, barely strung together, to form an incomprehensible hash-job of a book. I hated it. I couldn’t see any point to the story at all. I mean, I know it’s supposed to be in the Sci-fi/Fantasy genre, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t make any kind of sense at all!So, yes, I hated this book and I severely regret that I will never gain back the time I wasted in reading it.

Mr Holt, I don’t suppose you’ll ever see this, but I won’t be bothering with any of your books again as I’m always disappointed by them. I’m sorry, but there it is – I just can’t see the point in getting into overly complicated plots which go nowhere, characters I just can’t bring myself to care about, and confusion just for the sake of it.

In fact, the only positive thing about reading this particular offering is that I’ve now found something that strips the Kim Harrison debacle of its “Worst and Most Dull Read Ever” title. Mr Holt, you’ve made that experience seem like a dream by comparison. Thank you. It’s been dire.

Never again!

High Society by Ben Elton Wednesday, Dec 31 2008 

Title: High Society
Author: Ben Elton
ISBN: 059304939X
Rating: 1/5

Synopsis:
The war on drugs has been lost. The simple fact is that the whole world is rapidly becoming one vast criminal network. From pop stars and royal princes to crack whores and street kids, from the Groucho Club toilets to the poppy fields of Afghanistan, we are all partners in crime. High Society is a story about Britain today, a criminal nation in which everybody is either breaking the law or knows people who do. It takes the reader on a hilarious, heartbreaking and terrifying journey through the kaleidoscope world that the law has created and from which the law offers no protection.

Review:
I’ve never thought much of Mr Elton as a stand up comedian, but I love his work as a writer (both script-wise and novels). Unfortunately, this particular offering was rather a let down in comparison to his previous literary outings. The interconnected stories of too many people jumped around all over the place and I found I didn’t really care about any of them in particular. It wasn’t even as funny or clever as his other books – his usually sparkling wit completely buried under the politics, which is a shame, because a lot of what he was trying to say made plenty of sense.

It’s not one I’d recommend – more on the heavy side than the others (I know it’s a heavy subject matter, but then, so was global warming and environmental disaster and that was handled incredibly well in This Other Eden.

If you want his sarcasm at its very best, read either Past Mortem or Dead Famous – absolute gems, both of ’em – but give High Society a miss.