The Reader by Bernhard Schlink

the-reader-jpg

Synopsis from Amazon:

For 15-year-old Michael Berg, a chance meeting with an older woman leads to far more than he ever imagined. The woman in question is Hanna, and before long they embark on a passionate, clandestine love affair which leaves Michael both euphoric and confused. For Hanna is not all she seems. Years later, as a law student observing a trial in Germany, Michael is shocked to realize that the person in the dock is Hanna. The woman he had loved is a criminal. Much about her behaviour during the trial does not make sense. But then suddenly, and terribly, it does – Hanna is not only obliged to answer for a horrible crime, she is also desperately concealing an even deeper secret.

This is a brave book. It follows Michael, who after a long period of illness goes to thank the women who helped him when he was sick in the street. This second encounter leads to a love affair that will haunt Michael for the rest of his life. Suddenly Hanna disappears and Michael thinks that is the end – until he sees her in court answering to crimes committed under Hitler’s reign. Yet as the trail proceeds Michael discovers something about Hanna that she is hiding, and which leads her to punishment.

This books looks at Germany, the aftermath of the war, the Holocaust and the guilt of a generation. It also looks at love and sex, and books. I thought this book was a good read. It isn’t a long book and it didn’t take me long to read. I did find the philosophy in the second part hard to grasp, and found it difficult to concentrate whilst reading those bits, but they are really my only complaints.

I liked Michael – he was a simple 15 year old who hadn’t been in a proper relationship, then a man trying to work out how to condemn those who had been involved with the Holocaust, and ultimately he proved himself a good friend. I felt sorry for Hanna and the secret she felt she needed to keep however she had a mean streak that I didn’t like.

As already said, this is a brave book. I think it addresses these sensitive issues well – I don’t think people will be offended when reading this book. I would recommend this as a good book.

8/10

Advertisements

The Chocolate Run by Dorothy Koomson

the chocolate run

Synopsis from Amazon:

Amber Salpone thinks in chocolate – talk to her for three minutes and she’ll tell you what kind of chocolate you’d be. In fact, most days, if she was asked to choose between chocolate and relationships, there’d be no contest. At least chocolate has never let her down. Unlike her family. Growing up in the Salpone household has taught Amber to avoid conflict – and love – at all costs. So, when she does the unthinkable and has a one-night stand with womaniser Greg Walterson, her uncomplicated, chocolate-flavoured life goes into meltdown. Especially when Greg announces she’s the love of his life – and Amber finds it hard enough to decide if she wants plain or Fruit & Nut …Meanwhile, her best friend, Jen, seems to be launching a bid to become Bitch Of The Year and Amber’s family are making unreasonable demands. Amber has two choices: to deal with her past and the people around her, or to go on a chocolate run and keep on running …

Amber is not a chocoholic – if you ask her – she is just a chocolate sniffer, needs chocolate to think, and compares everyone to chocolate. It is her constant in life, her safety net.  But running for chocolate is not going to help her this time. She has been off relationships for 18 months, and has loved it. Yet she is falling for Greg, the womaniser. As she pursues this line she realises that her best friend is being turned into skinny, selfish, horrid person, who Amber doesn’t know, or want to know. The some dark secrets come out – not only does Amber have to confront her childhood fears, but she must make choices about friends and lovers.

I really enjoyed this book. This is the second book by Koomson I have read and liked it so much I have bought a third novel. Koomson is a great writer. She is exciting and gripping. I didn’t want to put the book down. The story flows easily off the page and incredibly readable.

I loved the characters. Koomson writes in a way that you feel how Amber feels – so when she was sad you were too; when her heart broke, so did yours. I really liked Renee and Martha her work collegues – they were funny but good people – great friends to have around.

This is chick-lit, but anyone who likes a good story of friendship, love and family should read this book.

9/10

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

Synopsis by Amazon:

Everyone has a dark side. Dr Jekyll has discovered the ultimate drug. A chemical that can turn him into something else. Suddenly, he can unleash his deepest cruelties in the guise of the sinister Hyde. Transforming himself at will, he roams the streets of fog-bound London as his monstrous alter-ego. It seems he is master of his fate. It seems he is in complete control. But soon he will discover that his double life comes at a hideous price …

Dr. Jekyll is a scientist with a dark secret – he has created a drug which transforms him into his sinister dark side. At first this is OK, but then Hyde, his alter-ego starts making trouble and goes as far as committing murder. Jekyll’s friends start to get suspicious when Mr. Hyde is seen coming and going from Jekyll’s home – and then the hideous secret is out….

I really enjoyed this book. It explores human nature and good and evil – and ultimately the choices we make. The book was exciting and gripping. It is original and well written – clearly a classic.

Stevenson’s characters were great! I liked the fact Mr. Hyde was written in such a way that I really didn’t like him – it is nice to come across a book that sparks emotion and feelings, and this book did that.

I didn’t find this book scary, just a great read.

9/10

The Time Machine by H. G. Wells

Synopsis from Amazon:

When a Victorian scientist propels himself into the year 802,701 AD, he is initially delighted to find that suffering has been replaced by beauty, contentment and peace. Entranced at first by the Eloi, an elfin species descended from man, he soon realises that this beautiful people are simply remnants of a once-great culture – now weak and childishly afraid of the dark. They have every reason to be afraid: in deep tunnels beneath their paradise lurks another race descended from humanity – the sinister Morlocks. And when the scientist’s time machine vanishes, it becomes clear he must search these tunnels, if he is ever to return to his own era.

In Victorian London, a man known only as The Time Traveller has beaten the odds and made a time machine. He transports himself to the year 802,701 to find out what the world will be like in the future. He discovers two races, the fearful Eloi and the scary Morlocks. It seems the latter, who hide in the darkness of the underground tunnels have taken his time machine. The Time Traveller has to go on quite an adventure to relocate his ticket home.

This was a quick book, and fairly enjoyable, however, Wells makes quite a dire prediction of the future. He writes that humans will split into two races: one will be childish and the other evil. I did not relate to the characters well, yet I wanted to know what happened. Some people have referred to this book as a social commentary but for me it was an adventure book. The Time Traveller had dark roads to travel and all sorts of beings to fight if he wished to get to his era.

I think it is clear why it is a classic. It has elements of excitment and it Wells has thought outside the box to write this book. Although not the best classic around I think this is a book worth reading.

7/10

Men at Arms by Terry Pratchett

men at arms

Synopsis from Amazon:

Be a MAN in the City Watch! The City Watch needs MEN!

But what it’s got includes Corporal Carrot (technically a dwarf), Lance-constable Cuddy (really a dwarf), Lance-constable Detrius (a troll), Lance-constable Angua (a woman…most of the time) and Corporal Nobbs (disqualified from the human race for shoving).

And they need all the help they can get. Because they’ve only got twenty-four hours to clean up the town and this is Ankh-Morpork we’re talking about…

Ankh-Morpork is in trouble. There are a series of mysterious murders, a student who wants a king put on the throne and the “Gone”, a very dangerous weapon with a mind of its own. So who is there to solve this mystery? The Night-Watch, consisting of an adopted dwarf, a real dwarf, a werewolf and a troll. How will pan out….?

This is another Discworld classic. It is number 15 in the series. I found this book just as enjoyable as the others. Pratchett’s writing was engaging and inviting. As ever, Ankh-Morpork is described so well that you lose yourself there. The characters have been seen in other books, and were hilarious at times. My favourites were Death, who makes a  couple of appearances, with some very witty one-liners; Corporal Carrot, a very simple human who was adopted by dwarfs and Gaspode the talking dog. His manipulation of humans was classic. The conversations between Cuddy and Detrius were amusing, as trolls and dwarfs traditionally dislike each other, so they rivalry had to continue for show. Detrius learning to count and his use of numbers had me laughing too. Pratchett is very original with his ideas of a Fools Guild, an Assassin Guild and even a Dog Guild. This is a very well thought out and well written book.

I recommend this book because it is engaging, full of danger, and adventure and hilarious. This is a grea fantasy book and well worth reading.

9/10

Speaking of Love by Angela Young

speaking of love

Synopsis from Beautiful Books:

When human beings don’t talk about love, things go wrong.

If a mother had told her daughter that she loved her, they might not have spent years apart. If a man had found the courage to tell a woman that he loved her she might never have married another man. And if a father had told his daughter that he loved her when her mother died, she might not have suffered the breakdown that caused the rift with her own daughter.

But if you are born into a family that never talks about love, how do you learn to say the words?

SPEAKING of LOVE is a novel about what happens when people who love each other don’t say so. It deals passionately and honestly with human breakdown. And it tells of our need for stories and how stories can help make sense of the random nature of life.

This is Young’s first novel, and in my opinion it is a success. The book follows three people: Iris, Vivie and Matthew. Iris is Vivie’s mother and suffers from mental health issues and suffers a devastating break down. Vivie is only young when this happens and it emotionally scars to the point she feels like her life is collapsing around her. Matthew is a few years older than Vivie and they grew up as next door neighbours. Matthew is in love with Vivie but cannot tells her how he feels. In fact, none of them can voice their feelings; leading to heartbreak and separation. But in a special twist of fate, a storytelling event where Iris is speaking brings all of them together…will feelings be voiced and hurts mended?

This was a beautiful book. It took a little while to get going, and to be honest I did think about stopping reading it; however I am so glad I pushed on. As the story unfolds it is gripping and real. I would not class this as chick-lit or romance fiction because the main theme alongside love is mental health. Most of the consequences in the book arise from Iris’ illness and Young honestly explores the repercussion of being so ill and having a breakdown.

One aspect I really enjoyed was the fact Iris was a story teller. Not just that but some of her stories are published in the book, and they were lovely to read.

The book flits between Iris, Vivie and Matthew; and it flows easily between the three. Alongside that, they all slip into memories gracefully and this explains how they were feeling, recalls events that changed their lives and gives an insight into Iris’ illness.

This is not a fast read, however it is a wonderful book and I recommend it for everyone.

8/10

Published by: Beautiful Books

RRP: £7.99

Heavenly by Jennifer Laurens

heavenly

Synopsis from FantasticFiction:

I met someone who changed everything. Matthias. My autistic sister’s guardian angel. Honest. Inspiring. Funny. Hot. And immortal. That was the problem. What could I do? I did what any other girl would do-I fell in love with him. Zoë’s sister darts in front of cars. Her brother’s a pothead. Her parents are so overwhelmed; they don’t see Zoë lost in her broken life. Zoë escapes the only way she knows how: partying. Matthias, a guardian sent from Heaven, watches over Zoë’s autistic sister. After Zoë is convinced he’s legit, angel and lost girl come together in a love that changes destiny. But Heaven on Earth can’t last forever.

This book is released in August 2009, and well worth reading. Zoe is an 18-year with the weight of the world on her shoulders. Ever since her younger sister was diagnosed with autism her life started to go downhill. Her parents became wrapped up in their concerns for her sister, her brother has turned to drugs and Zoe has begun to party and seek out boys. Until one day when she is out at the park and her sister runs off. After frantic searching she finds her, with Matthais. A few days later she runs off again, and again Matthais finds her. Who is this guy? Her sister’s guardian angel. With him around life changes for Zoe. She starts to grow up and she falls in love, but how can love survive between a human and a heavenly being?

This is a younger adult book, but I recommend it for everyone. Laurens is an amazing writing. I read this book in a day – the story just flowed off the pages, drawing you in. Laurens explores many difficult issues, from autism, to drugs, and she started to explore the idea of Heaven and God. All of which were done sensitively and well.

The characters were lovely. Abria, the autistic sister, sounded lovely, even if she was hard work. And I too fell in love with Matthais. Calm, sensitive and caring, he sounded perfect.

And of course, there was a bit of a cliff hanger at the end of the book, which I didn’t anticipate. And it has made me eager for the next installment.

I cannot fault this book. It was a gripping, enjoyable, great read, and I highly recommend it.

10/10