Category Archives: Reviewing

‘The Tenth Circle’ by Jodi Picoult (May Contain Spoilers)

the-tenth-circle

Description:

Trixie Stone only goes to the party that night to get her boyfriend back.

By morning, Trixie is under police protection and Jason, her ex, has been arrested on suspicion of date rape.

There are no witnesses. The physical evidence is inconclusive. It is her word against his.

Who is telling the truth?

My Thoughts:

I’m one of those people who, when a friend recommends a novel, I’ll give it go, despite whether the books’ genre isn’t something I would usually read. In this way, I’ve discovered some fantastic novels.

I had never read anything from Jodi Picoult until ‘The Tenth Circle’ was recommended to me but overall, I thought it was a good read. However there were some elements that I feel could have been better.

Firstly, the positives. I liked the fact that a sensitive issue such as rape, wasn’t just focused on through a female’s perspective, but how a father would feel, if their daughter were a rape victim. I could identify with the characters and thought that they were believable. I cared about them enough to find out what was going to happen to them.I also thought that the interweaving of the comic book the male character is working on, as a metaphor for the events and feelings the characters were experiencing throughout the book, was an interesting concept, particularly being a Marvel fan myself.

The main problem for me though, was towards the end. Whilst at the beginning of this novel I thought that this was going to be about how each member of the Stone family dealt with Trixie’s rape, it kind of unravelled into being something that you would see in a cheesy tv movie. The journey in which the characters were taken on, seemed over sentimental and just a bit too convenient, rather than dealt with the real issues at hand. It felt like Jodi Picoult had given up trying to finish the story and gave us a half hearted one, rather than a strong and gutsy ending that I think this story deserved.

All in all, I wouldn’t say that I hated this novel. I will probably read more Jodi Picoult novels in future, but I hope that any future novels I decide to read have better endngs than this book.

 

Rating: ****

 

6 Months!

It has been 6 months since I last posted on ‘The Avid Reader’!

That’s not to say that I haven’t been reading, I’m as avid as ever ( In fact,  I’m currently getting to the end of my third re-read of ‘The Hobbit’,), but I lost my mojo for writing. Not just writing blog posts, but writing more of the detective novel that I’ve been trying finish for the last 3 years or so.

Part of the reason that I lost my mojo, is that life has got in the way. I won’t go into any details of that (I don’t want to use this blog for whining and whinging, I feel very lucky with what I have) but over the last week or so, I’ve found the joy for writing again hurrah!

To be honest, I’ve probably read too many books in the last 6, to properly catch up with reviews on the blog but I will try and post my thoughts on a few of them shortly. Let me know about your best reads of the last 6 months.

I’m also going to see ‘Bridget Jones Baby’ next week, so I with review it after I have seen it. I’m not a big fan of Chick-Lit, but I have enjoyed the ‘Bridget Jones’ series. To wet your appetite, here’s the trailer:

 

Review- ‘We need to talk about Kevin’ by Lionel Shriver (Warning- Contains Spoilers!)

kevin

What the ‘blurb’ says:

Eva never really wanted to be a mother; certainly not the mother of the unlovable boy who murdered seven of his fellow high school students, a cafeteria worker and a teacher who tried to befriend him. Now, two years later, it is time for her to come to terms with marriage, career, family, parenthood and Kevin’s horrific rampage in a series of startlingly direct correspondences with her absent husband, Franklyn. Uneasy with the sacrifices and social demotion of motherhood from the start, Eva fears that her alarming dislike for her own son may be responsible for driving him so nihilistically off the rails.

My Thoughts:

Firstly, forgive me if this review is a bit all over the place. It has been more than a week week since I finished reading this novel and I still haven’t been able to exactly pinpoint my thoughts on this! Warning though, this review has spoilers.

The story plot from the point where Eva meets her husband, through to motherhood and finally the present day.

The reasons why I can’t pinpoint whether I enjoyed this novel or not, are varied. Firstly, I wasn’t too keen on the writing style. At times the writing seemed forced and too formal. Considering the fact that the book was supposed to be constructed in an informal letter style, in my opinion each chapter would start almost in letter form and then jump into regular prose. However, I felt like the writing improved during the novel.

Secondly, I didn’t really like the main character Eva. She was cold, selfish and in some ways, just as bad as her son…I think.

At times, this felt wrong to even be reading this book, both main characters were twisted and the subject matter, dark. However, I found some of the psychology highlighted within this novel, fascinating. I also enjoyed the tale unfolding. I’m not much of a fan of slower paced books, but I think that the slow unfolding of events to be effective during this novel. I also liked the twist at the end.

As I said at the beginning of this review, my thoughts on this are messy. ‘We need to talk about Kevin’ isn’t exactly the most enjoyable book I’ve read this year, but it’s the most interesting and thought provoking.

My Rating ***

I would love to know if anyone else who has read this book,  felt as conflicted when they read this book as I do.

REVIEW- ‘The Notebook’ by Nicholas Sparks

the notebook

What the ‘Blurb’ says:

How far can love endure?

Noah Calhoun has just returned from World War Two. Attempting to escape the ghosts of battle, he tries to concentrate on restoring an old plantation home to its former glory. And yet he is haunted by images of the beautiful girl he met there fourteen years before, a girl who captured his heart like no other.

But when these distant memories begin to slide into reality, the passion that had lain still is ignited once more. Though so much is in their way, the miraculous force of their love refuses to fade.

My Thoughts

Firstly I have to admit that romance isn’t a genre I normally read, but on the recommendation of a friend, I decided to give this novel a go.

What I liked about the story was Noel, one of the main characters. He is believable and likeable. The romantic story between Noah and Allison, is very well told. It does come close to being too over sentimental, but just about gets away with it.

The problems I had with this book, were contained within the later half. The issues this book deals with is, as far as I can imagine, were well told and researched. I do think that those issues could have been developed more though.

I also felt disappointed with the story, at the last page of this novel. I didn’t expect this book to end as it did. Some people may be satisfied by the way this novel ends, but I thought that it was slightly far-fetched and ruined the story a little for me.

I wasn’t entirely keen on the slow pace of the novel either. I can imagine this novel to be perfect for the lazy days of summer, when there is no rush to go anywhere. I prefer slightly faster paced novels.

After reading this review you may think that I didn’t enjoy this novel at all, but I thought it was a reasonably enjoyable read.

Whilst I wouldn’t rush to read this again, I think that ‘The Notebook’ would make a readable, beach novel.

My Rating **

REVIEW- ‘Sea Glass’ by Ann Shreve

seaglass

What the ‘blurb’ says:

Anita Shreve’s new novel Sea Glass represents a remarkable advance. She previously caught the attention of many readers with Fortune’s Rocks and The Pilot’s Wife, beautifully crafted novels with rich and subtly observed characterisation. But however impressive those books were, Sea Glass has the same adroit creation of character, but the prose is even more rich and allusive. This is a story of the human heart, of the demands of the past, and of the necessity for pragmatism in human relationships. It’s 1929, and Honora Beecher and her husband Sexton are enjoying their new marriage in a cottage on the coast of New Hampshire. Honora is renovating the rundown property and searching for pieces of coloured glass washed up on the beach. Sexton attempts to buy the house they both adore, but with disastrous results: like many other Americans, he is a victim of the stock market crash and is financially wiped out. He is forced to work in a nearby mill, where a labour conflict is having violent results. The couple’s struggle to maintain their marriage in the face of dangerous forces that threaten to overwhelm them is vividly and poignantly told.

Shreve has written nine novels and throughout her work she has painstakingly honed her storytelling skills with elegance and intelligence. She is particularly skilful at depicting interlocking lives, as in Sea Glass, and adroitly invests each with its own portion of love and tragedy. If you want to be one of the “early adopters” of Shreve’s cherishable novels, now is the time:

In the wet sand by her foot, a bit of colour catches her eye. The glass is green pale and cloudy, the colour of lime juice that has been squeezed into a glass. She brushes the sand off and presses the sea glass into her palm, keeping it for luck.

My Thoughts:

Having never read any novels by Anita Shreve, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I embarked on ‘Sea Glass’. What I’ve discovered, is a writer who has an incredible talent for description. The landscapes and details within the novel are so beautiful, it’s like she is painting a picture in your mind, by only using words.

I must admit that it took me a while to really settle down into this novel. Due to the story being told through several different characters, all of which are completely different, I wasn’t sure where this novel was going. With a bit of persistence it became clear.

This novel isn’t exactly a complete story. What I mean by this, is that it is complete (it is a book with a beginning, a middle and an end), but ‘Sea Glass’ focusses on one period of time, in which the characters find themselves dealing with different issues. The characters within this novel are believable, well rounded and vivid. Through them, this book perfectly encapsulates the glamour and struggles people faced, within the 1920’s. The love story also isn’t over sentimental and fits within the book as a whole.

The only criticism I could give about this novel, is its slower pace. Then again, this may be just personal preference. Nevertheless, I think that ‘Sea Glass‘ is a beautiful novel and I look forward to reading more novels by Ann Shreve.

My Rating ****

On Reviewing…

I’ve been thinking about what the future holds for the blog and some of the ideas I have had, I’m quite excited about. Although I’ve realised that to start off well, the foundations of the blog have to be right.

In my previous book blog, I realised that my book reviews were good, but lacked a scoring system. When reading book reviews, I’m not usually persuaded entirely by the review. In fact, if a novel has received a complete slating by a reviewer, that actually encourages me to read that novel so that I can make my own mind up about it. However, I do pay slight attention to a star system any review, it would certainly encourage me to read the rest of its contents.

So, that being said, here is my scoring system for any review of books, films or tv featured on the blog:

***** Loved it. Thoroughly recommended.

**** Enjoyed it, but not without faults.

*** It was ok. Neither good nor bad.

** Mildly enjoyable. Had elements which could have been improved.

* Hated this. Wouldn’t recommend.

Whilst I don’t expect everyone to agree with my reviews/ratings, (feel free to disagree, I love a discussion on books and films!) it’ll give you a good idea of what I think. I’ll also tag each book review not only by genre, but by ratings.

I’ll be posting a review tomorrow, so watch this space!

For those of you who review (books, films, tv etc) what’s your rating system? How much attention do you pay to reviews/ratings?