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Ruth

Ruth - 2015

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Fiction

 

No Time for Goodbye, by Linwood Barclay - 3.5/5

The Second Life of Amy Archer, by R. S. Pateman - 3.75/5

The White Woman on the Green Bicycle, by Monique Roffey - 5/5

A Long Way Down, by Nick Hornby - 3/5

I Let You Go, by Clare Mackintosh - 4/5

The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins - 3.75/5

Go Set A Watchman, by Harper Lee - 3.75/5

My Everything, by Katie Marsh - 4/5

Custard Tarts and Broken Hearts, by Mary Gibson - 3/5

The Third Wife, by Lisa Jewell - 4.5/5

The Sisterhood, by Emily Barr - 4.5/5

 

Biography/Autobiography

 

Papillon, by Henri Charriere - 3/5

The Biscuit Girls, by Hunter Davies - 5/5

The Richard Burton Diaries, edited by Chris Williams - 5/5

It's Only a Movie, by Mark Kermode - 5/5

Borrowed Time, by Paul Monette - 5/5

Anger Is An Energy: My Life Uncensored, by John Lydon - 4/5

Brando's Smile: His Life, Thought and Work, by Susan Mizruchi - 4/5

 

Other Non-Fiction

 

Last Man Standing: Tales from Tinseltown, by Roger Moore - 3/5

Love Life, by Rob Lowe - 5/5

How Dogs Love Us, by Gregory Berns - 4.5/5

Love, Nina, by Nina Stibbe - 5/5

The Good, The Bad and The Multiplex, by Mark Kermode - 4.5/5

Edited by Ruth

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Have a great reading year Ruth :)

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Last Man Standing, by Roger Moore

 

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As the subtitle (Tales from Tinseltown) suggests, this book by former James Bond and Simon Templar actor Sir Roger Moore, is a collection of stories and anecdotes from his life and career, as well as some stories that he was told himself, and others which he admits are probably apocryphal.

 

It’s an enjoyable and easy read, but I definitely doubt the veracity of some of his tales (even those which he does not admit are probably untrue).  For example, when talking about Frank Sinatra, he says that when Frank died, Frank’s wife Barbara and daughter Nancy were with him.  However, Frank’s other daughter Tina, states quite clearly in her own book, how none of Frank’s children were with him at the time of his death, and how much that upset them.  More enjoyable are the stories which Sir Roger was personally involved in, as the details of these are obviously much more likely to be correct.

 

Obviously given the subject, there are loads of famous Hollywood stars, many of whom are no longer with us, mentioned throughout, and this makes for a gossipy – but never malicious – kind of book.  Sir Roger does come across as a genuinely nice man, who doesn’t take himself too seriously, and enjoys high-jinks and practical jokes on set.  This is not the book to read if you are looking for his autobiography (and nor does it claim to be), although he does talk about various stages in his career.

 

I would recommend this book to fans of Sir Roger, or to anyone interested in Hollywood gossip, but I wouldn’t take all of it as completely accurate.

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Thanks everyone.  I hope 2015 is a great year for reading, for all of us.  I enjoy looking through everyone's logs, and usually end up adding more than a few titles to my wishlist :D

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No Time for Goodbye, by Linwood Barclay

 

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May 1983 – 14 year old Cynthia Bigge wakes up the morning after an almighty row with her father, and discovers that her entire family – her mother, father and brother have disappeared.  The mystery is never solved, and for 25 years, Cynthia has to live with not knowing what happened to them.  Are they dead? Alive?  Did they just choose to leave her, or did some other fate befall them?

 

2008 – Cynthia appears in one of those hokey true-crime television shows, which revisits the mystery of her family’s disappearance, and soon afterwards, strange things start happening – a phone call from someone saying that they know where her family are; her father’s old hat suddenly appearing in their house, and other events.  Is someone playing cruel games with Cynthia, or is they mystery finally about to be solved?

 

Apart from the very brief prologue describing the night of the disappearance from Cynthia’s point of view, the rest of the story is narrated by her husband, a high school English teacher named Terry.  Cynthia and Terry have a more-or-less happy marriage, and an eight year old daughter named Grace, but the mystery of what happened to her parents and brother has haunted Cynthia for years, to the extent that when odd events occur, Terry questions Cynthia’s sanity.

 

If you are a fan of thrillers/whodunnits, then I’d recommend this story.  Sometimes the writing is a bit cliched, and I did figure out the ending before the big reveal, but there was plenty here that kept me entertained.  The writing flowed well, and I read huge chunks at a time, because I was eager to find out what happened (and if my guesses were correct).  The plot sometimes veered close to being ludicrous, but I just went with it, and enjoyed it anyway.  As with most books in this genre, I would not read it again, because it’s more about the destination rather than the journey, so once you know who ‘dunnit’ there’s not much point in re-reading.  Terry was a decent enough narrator, although not a particularly interesting character (to me anyway), but this book is definitely more plot driven than character driven, so the fact that he did not make a huge impression on me did not really matter.

 

 

All in all, it’s not brilliant, but it’s an enjoyable diversion and I’d read more by Linwood Barclay.

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Really interesting review Ruth, especially given that I agree with so much of what you say, but found myself coming to a completely different conclusion!

How come?  Well....

 

Sometimes the writing is a bit cliched, and I did figure out the ending before the big reveal

 

Agree completely (although just a bit?)
 

The plot sometimes veered close to being ludicrous

 

Definitely!
 

Terry was a decent enough narrator, although not a particularly interesting character (to me anyway)

 

Me neither.
 

but this book is definitely more plot driven than character driven

 

Agree again.  We are talking about the one that veers close to being ludicrous?
 

All in all, it’s not brilliant, but it’s an enjoyable diversion and I’d read more by Linwood Barclay.

 

Well, I agree with the first bit (although I'd express it rather more forcibly!), but after that, we reach the point where where we diverge: can't say I enjoyed it, and decided not to bother with Mr Barclay again.

Funny old game, reading!
  :smile:



 

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Great review, Ruth, and I'm really happy you enjoyed the novel! :)  Like you said, these sorts of books are more about the destination than the journey, and so there's not much idea in re-reading, but that doesn't mean they can't make a jolly good read the first time around! I would definitely recommend Too Close to Home by Barclay: I thought it was better than NTfG. I've also read Fear the Worst but that wasn't as good. There were a few events at the end of that novel that made it seem more like a Hollywood action movie rather than a good book :rolleyes: 

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Really interesting review Ruth, especially given that I agree with so much of what you say, but found myself coming to a completely different conclusion!

 

How come?  Well....

 

 

Agree completely (although just a bit?)

 

 

Definitely!

 

 

Me neither.

 

 

Agree again.  We are talking about the one that veers close to being ludicrous?

 

 

Well, I agree with the first bit (although I'd express it rather more forcibly!), but after that, we reach the point where where we diverge: can't say I enjoyed it, and decided not to bother with Mr Barclay again.

 

Funny old game, reading!  :smile:

 

 

 

 

 It is, isn't it? :)  I think I was just in the right frame of mind to take it for what it is, and go along for the ride.  At another time, it might have really annoyed me, but it was kind of like eating cheap chocolate - I know it's not very good, but I still enjoy it.

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Good review, Ruth.  I'm definitely interested. :)

 

 

Great review, Ruth, and I'm really happy you enjoyed the novel! :)  Like you said, these sorts of books are more about the destination than the journey, and so there's not much idea in re-reading, but that doesn't mean they can't make a jolly good read the first time around! I would definitely recommend Too Close to Home by Barclay: I thought it was better than NTfG. I've also read Fear the Worst but that wasn't as good. There were a few events at the end of that novel that made it seem more like a Hollywood action movie rather than a good book :rolleyes:

 

Thanks, both of you :)  As I said to Will, at another time, this book might have annoyed me a bit, but I wanted something that was quite undemanding and easy to read, and this fitted the bill.

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It is, isn't it? :)  I think I was just in the right frame of mind to take it for what it is, and go along for the ride.  At another time, it might have really annoyed me, but it was kind of like eating cheap chocolate - I know it's not very good, but I still enjoy it.

 

Yes, I know exactly what you mean (and just as well we can enjoy the cheap chocolate sometimes given what Kraft have just done to Cadbury's Creme Eggs - see here - not the most expensive chocolate even before!) .  Having said that, this example may have gone too far!!

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Love Life, by Rob Lowe

 

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This is the second book by actor and producer Rob Lowe.  Having read his autobiography ‘Stories I Only Tell My Friends’ and really enjoyed it, I was very much looking forward to reading his follow-up, and I’m happy to say that it didn’t disappoint.

 

In ‘Love Life’, Lowe shares stories and anecdotes from his life, both personal and professional.  He is a very engaging narrator, thoughtful and contemplative, but also very witty (his story about dressing as Bigfoot on a camping trip with his children was wonderfully told and incredibly funny).

 

Other stories involve his musings on marriage – from being a playboy with an addiction problem in his 20s, to being a sober, happily married father of two 25 years later; being involved in a tv show which is rapidly heading toward oblivion, and making a monumental script cock-up on stage in the West End.  He talks with pride of his two sons, and the chapter where his older son goes away to college was very moving.

 

Maybe I’m biased – I really like Lowe as an actor; he is very versatile, and equally able to do both comedy and drama, and understandably, he does discuss his acting career here – but I think I would have enjoyed this book even if I was not especially a fan of his.

 

As mentioned earlier, this is not an autobiography, and nor does it claim to be, but it does provide more insight into his character and his philosophy.  It’s a thoroughly enjoyable read, and I would definitely recommend it.

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I read No Time For Goodbye by Linwood Barclay in 2008 and I enjoyed it - according to my review I guessed the reveal (which I find I now can't remember at all now!  :giggle: ) half way through the book.  It was a Richard and Judy summer read at the time so I expected it to be a bit fluffy.   I said at the end of my review that I would definitely read more, but I haven't done so - I'm not sure I will now.

 

I hope you have a good 2015.  :)

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Papillon, by Henri Charriere

 

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This is the story of Henri Charierre, known as Papillon (which is French for butterfly – he had a butterfly tattoo on his chest) and his incarceration in a French prison in 1930 for a murder which Papillon has always denied committing.  During his subsequent years of imprisonment, he spent time in many prisons and penal colonies, which had varying degrees of cruelty and inhumane treatment.  Papillon made several attempts to break out of the various institutions, with varying degrees of success.

 

The veracity of the story has often been questioned, with Papillon himself saying that it is about 75% true, while more modern researchers believe that parts of his story which he claims happened to him, were actually about other prisoners.  Either way, it’s an interesting adventure, and you have to admire his grit and determination to become a free man.

 

I enjoyed the book overall, although I found it took a long time for me to read.  There was so much information in parts that I had to take it slowly, to make sure I took it all in.  Charierre himself is an engaging, if occasionally self-aggrandising character, and certainly a good storyteller.  I liked the fact that although – especially in the beginning of the story – he was concentrated on his anger on the people who had wrongly incarcerated him (such as the Judge, prosecutor and people on the jury during his trial), and his determined to exact his revenge, over the passage of time, he came to focus on the kindnesses shown to him by various people, and was not lacking in compassion for others.

 

This was definitely a book worth reading, and the ending was particularly uplifting.  I would definitely recommend it.  (However, readers ought perhaps to be aware that the author occasionally uses some outdated and distasteful racial descriptions.)

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Excellent review, Ruth! Papillon only recently came to my attention. It sounds intriguing. :)

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Given his propensity to lie, do you believe he was wrongly imprisoned as he says he was?

 

I'd be inclined not to believe him, put it like that!  Although no matter whether he was guilty or not, the French penal system was inexcusably dreadful and barbaric.

 

Excellent review, Ruth! Papillon only recently came to my attention. It sounds intriguing. :)

 

Thanks.  It's a lot of reading - very wordy, but very good.  I like the film as well, with Steve McQueen as Papillon.  (Reading the book I don't really see McQueen as right for the role, but I'll happily watch anything with him in.)

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​The Second Life of Amy Archer, by R. S. Pateman

 

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December 31 1999.  Ten year old Amy Archer goes missing, and is presumed dead.  Her body isn’t found, and ten years later, her mother Beth is still struggling to cope with her grief.  On December 31 2009, there is a knock at her door, and a young woman claims to know where Amy is.  Beth is then introduced to a girl who looks exactly like her daughter, and knows things that only Amy could have known.  But this girl is only ten years old.  As Beth tries to understand the truth behind ‘Amy’s’ sudden reappearance, her enquiries take her down dark paths and reveal secrets long hidden.

 

I am in two minds about this book.  I think the premise is interesting – I don’t personally believe in reincarnation, psychics or mediums, all of which are discussed in this book, but I don’t think that you need to to invest in the story.  The narrative moved fast, and was interesting enough to keep me reading for hours, but the main issue for me was that I did not like any of the characters.  Not Beth, not Libby (the young woman who knocks on her door) and not even Amy/Esme, the young girl who claims to be Beth’s daughter reincarnated.  The other problem was that this author really REALLY liked his imagery and symbolism, and initially that annoyed me a little.  However, as I got further into the book, I must have got used to his way of writing, because I noticed it less and less.

 

Much has been made of the ending – I am not going to reveal anything about it here, but I personally did not mind it so much as other reviewers appear to have done.  I think if you are a fan of psychological thrillers, I would probably recommend this book, but beware that it does detail some particularly dark scenarios, which could make for uncomfortable reading.  Overall, I wouldn’t say it was a book I’d rave over, but I enjoyed it enough to read further books by this author.

 

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