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      June Supporter Giveaway   06/01/2019

      For the June giveaway I chose the theme 'The Gift of Reading.' One that I think we can all appreciate! The winner will receive four books, including:     The Gifts of Reading by Robert MacFarlane - 'An essay on the joy of reading, for anyone who has ever loved a book.'   plus three little short but (hopefully) thought provoking reading gifts...   The Reckoning by Edith Wharton - 'Two moving stories of love, loss, desire and divorce, from one of the great chroniclers of nineteenth-century New York life.' Create Dangerously by Albert Camus - 'Camus argues passionately that the artist has a responsibility to challenge, provoke and speak up for those who cannot in this powerful speech, accompanied here by two others.' It Was Snowing Butterflies by Charles Darwin - 'A selection of Darwin's extraordinary adventures during the voyage of the Beagle.'    As always, supporting members will be entered automatically into the random draw at the end of the month. If you want to be entered into the draw but don't support yet, you can do so here: https://www.patreon.com/bookclubforum   Good luck   
karen.d

Karen.d's Reading List 2019

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It's a shame you didn't enjoy the second book as much as the first. I'm glad it was still enjoyable though, just a shame about the middle that was not as interesting and moving the story forward as much. I hope the third book will be more enjoyable :).

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I hope so too! It's annoying when you invest time in a series and the ending is rubbish!

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Hi! It's been a whole since I did an update on this page. I'm still ploughing through 'The Girl who Kicked the Hornet's Nest' by Steig Larsson and really enjoying it.

 

I've decided to start posting on my book blog again. Today, I've posted a 'My Good Reading Habits' Tag. If anyone wants to read it, go to: https://theavidbookreviewer.blogspot.com/2019/03/my-good-reading-habits-tag.html

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'Never Say Spy' Book 1 of the 'Never Say Spy' Series- Diane Henders

 

This book was given to me as a present by a friend and is the first in the 'Never Say Spy' Series.

Firstly, what I really liked about this novel, was that the main character was a woman. This is a book set within a crime/spy environment and it's unusual to have a female main character, within this genre. I also really liked how Aydan Kelly was not portrayed as a weak, helpless victim, who was waiting to be rescued. She had guts and could definitely hold her own in a tricky situation.

This is a very fast- paced novel, from the very beginning. I liked this because you felt like you were finding out things, as Aydan was. This is so gripping, that I found it difficult to put this book down.

I also liked the Sci-Fi element to this novel. Usually I don't like books mixing genres too much, but actually., I wish that it could have been used a bit more, because it makes this different from every other novel within this genre.

I enjoyed reading about the male characters within this novel. They are all very distinctive and I liked that they all had their own identities. I loved the dynamics of the two main male characters with Aydan and it kept me wanted to know how this was going to resolve.

Due to the fact that Aydan Kelly is such as strong character, she has some very funny one liners and I really cared what happened to her. However, my only criticism of this novel would be that, as well as being a feisty woman, she also has a lustful mind. This is good because it's realistic, but, I did feel that these thoughts crept into her mind at the most inappropriate times, particularly when she had just been in an intense, dangerous situation.

This is also violent and gory in places. Although I wouldn't say that these parts were not inappropriate to the story.

I'm generally not a fan of spy novels and films, but I really enjoyed this one. I will definitely be reading the rest of this series.

 

My Rating ***1/2

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'Never Let Me Go'- Kazuo Ishiguro

 

I read 'Never Let Me Go' a few years ago and, after just finishing re-reading this book, I realize that you possibly need to read it more than once, to really appreciate how brilliant this is.

'Never Let Me Go' tells the complex relationship between 3 friends Ruth, Tommy and Kathy, the narrator of this story. These characters are so well formed, that I totally believed that these people exist. 

This is a story about friendship and growing up, which is something that you can relate to. However, the macabre twist to this story, delves deeper into what it is to be human.

My only real criticism of this book is that at times, it was a little slow. This melancholy, slower pace suited the story well. Due to the fact that the truth of what was happening to the main characters, was revealed slowly, meant that this had more impact. However, at times I felt like Kathy would be explaining something that had happened, but doing it in such a rambling way, that I wished that she would just get to the point.

Despite this little criticism, I think that this book is a beautiful and disturbing look into a future, that could potentially happen.

I would definitely recommend it.

 

My Rating ****

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'The Keeper of Lost Things'- Ruth Hogan

 

I thought that this book was generally good. The writing of this was, at times, beautiful and I think that the majority of the characters were likable and well formed. I think that Portia, Bomber's sister was rather cartoony and over exaggerated and I didn't really like her involvement in the story, it was a little bit too silly for me.

 I think the story line with Bomber was much more interesting and heart wrenching than the modern one. The idea of lost things, kind of fizzled out into something that was conventional, rather than having a more mysterious edge to it. 

 I thought that the way the story lines in the present and the past were tied together, was rather flimsy and too convenient. I liked all of the characters in the present, but this story line was a little cheesy and a bit cliche ( it seems like every single woman that has a break up or a bad marriage gets a dog!)

Personally, I think it would have been better to get rid of the modern plot line all together and just have a book about Bomber and a separate book of the different short stories about the lost things, as I enjoyed reading them and felt they were the stronger points of the book.

Despite its problems, I enjoyed reading this book. It was a easy and quick read.

 

My Rating ***

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'The Hole'- Guy Burt

 

I'm basing this review on a re-read of this novel. I read this book originally about 7-8 years ago and thought I would re-read it now, to see if or how my opinions changed.

The things that stick out for me with this book, are the description and writing. It's a very well crafted piece of literature, which has realistic and believable characters. This book is not exactly centred on a plot as such, but focuses more on the psychology of the teenagers in the Hole and for that, it does that very well.

The pacing of the novel is really good. The drama and suspense within this novel slowly creeps up on you, as you read through this novel.

On my second reading, I did guess the majority of the twist which happens at the end, so I don't think it had as much impact on me as it did the first time I read this. However, the ending was satisfactory regardless.

If you like a dark read with twists and turns, then I would recommend this novel.

 

My Rating ****

Edited by karen.d

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Great reviews!! I'm glad you enjoyed at least most of these somewhat :).

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'An Unwanted Guest'- Shari Lapena

 

This is the first book I had read by Shari Lapena and I was surprised to find out this was her third book, because it feels like a first novel.

I enjoyed the element of trying to work out who the killer was. However, I did have a problem with several elements within this book.

Firstly, the dialogue at the beginning, is awful. You could tell that Lapena was trying to introduce each character using dialogue, but what she succeeded in doing, was creating forced, unnatural conversation. This does improve throughout the book though.

Secondly for me, there were too many characters. At times, I got confused about who was who and had to keep referring to the beginning, to figure that out. I don't think that the characters were distinctive enough.

I also found some of the decisions of the characters to be implausible and, things which seemed obvious to do, took nearly 200 pages for the characters to figure out.

The ending for me was a bit weak. It felt like Shari Lapena wasn't exactly sure who the killer was herself. So as the book went on, the plot started to unravel. However, I did enjoy the little twist at the end.

Judging by all of the criticisms I have about this novel, you would think that I hated it. However, despite it's many flaws, I quite enjoyed it. 

I might re-read 'An Unwanted Guest', but I have no intention of reading any more of Shari Lapena's books in the future.

 

My Rating: ***

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I read a Shari Lapena novel recently Karen, The Couple Next Doorwhich I think is her fourth book.  It too, had a few problems with it that made it seem like a very amateur first novel.  It was very predictable, the characters were very stereotyped, and it was easy to figure out the ending after only less than a quarter of the book.  I was thinking about whether to try another of her books, but after reading your review I don't think I'll bother.

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16 hours ago, bookmonkey said:

I read a Shari Lapena novel recently Karen, The Couple Next Doorwhich I think is her fourth book.  It too, had a few problems with it that made it seem like a very amateur first novel.  It was very predictable, the characters were very stereotyped, and it was easy to figure out the ending after only less than a quarter of the book.  I was thinking about whether to try another of her books, but after reading your review I don't think I'll bother.

It's sad that her books don't seem to improve! It was a fun read, it's a shame that the organization of the plot and characters wasn't better.

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The Couple Next Door wasn't a fun read.  I only kept reading because I thought there was no way it could be so predictable.  I was waiting for a big surprise twist.  I have to stop doing that.  I did the same thing with Gone Girl and regretted it too.

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8 hours ago, bookmonkey said:

The Couple Next Door wasn't a fun read.  I only kept reading because I thought there was no way it could be so predictable.  I was waiting for a big surprise twist.  I have to stop doing that.  I did the same thing with Gone Girl and regretted it too.

I actually really enjoyed 'Gone Girl'.I know some people hated the ending, but I liked it.

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I figured out Gone Girl really early on in the book, so for me it was a bit predictable.  But everyone has different tastes in books, which is good.  It'd be boring if we all liked the same things.

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1 hour ago, bookmonkey said:

I figured out Gone Girl really early on in the book, so for me it was a bit predictable.  But everyone has different tastes in books, which is good.  It'd be boring if we all liked the same things.

True! I can't remember exactly whether I figured it out early (I read 'Gone Girl' years ago). However, I kno9w when I was reading it, my friend was too and we had very differing opinions of the ending o this book.

 

I'm currently reading 'The Girl on the Train' and I'm enjoying it, but, as I've watched the film version, I think it's not having as much of an impact on me, as if I hadn't have watched the film.

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I guessed the twist in GG as well.  I haven't read GotT but saw the film a few weeks ago when it was on TV, it was OK, but apart from the starry cast it wasn't much different to those TV movies that turn up regularly on Channel 5 in the afternoon!

Edited by Madeleine

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