Book Review: Holding by Graham Norton

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Read between: 18th- 22nd March
Format: ebook
Published: 6th October 2016
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Synopsis: The remote Irish village of Duneen has known little drama; and yet its inhabitants are troubled. Sergeant PJ Collins hasn’t always been this overweight; mother of­ two Brid Riordan hasn’t always been an alcoholic; and elegant Evelyn Ross hasn’t always felt that her life was a total waste.

So when human remains are discovered on an old farm, suspected to be that of Tommy Burke – a former­ love of both Brid and Evelyn – the village’s dark past begins to unravel. As the frustrated PJ struggles to solve a genuine case for the first time in his life, he unearths a community’s worth of anger and resentments, secrets and regret.

Darkly comic, touching and at times profoundly sad. Graham Norton employs his acerbic wit to breathe life into a host of loveable characters, and explore – with searing honesty – the complexities and contradictions that make us human.

Rating: 5521e-4stars

Review: Firstly, although this is late (as all of my Netgalley reviews will be- sorry!), thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for this book in exchange for an honest review.

I know Graham Norton from his talk show, I didn’t know he wrote books, well now I do and what better way to start than with his debut fiction novel! It’s a dark, gritty crime novel set in Duneen, Ireland. There are secrets bought up from the past. Are the bones found at a building site really those of local boy, Tommy Burke?

As the characters start thinking about the past- their back stories made the situation even more real. A few of them I even felt sorry for nearer the end of the novel, like Evelyn Ross, who lost so many people close to her, that even though she has a dog, she seems very lonely.

Sergent PJ Collins, along with an Inspector from Cork, are on the case- they are a few stumbles along the way, and as well as tackling their personal lives, they also have to deal with what the murder of someone could do to the town.

Somehow, they manage it.

I have to admit, I went into this novel not knowing very much about it. Not even the title gave away the true story- but that being said, I can see why it was chosen. People tend to hold on to the past- as most of the characters did.

Overall I enjoyed this book, I liked immersing myself into the lives of the people of Duneen as well as being intruiged by the murder. I definitely would recommend this book to anyone who loves a good crime novel.

4/5 stars.

I really enjoyed this!
Thanks for reading!
~Katie

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Book Review: Doctor Who: The Deviant Strain by Justin Richards

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Read between: 16th-18th March
Format: Hardcover
Number of pages: 256
Synopsis: The Novrosk Peninsula: the Soviet naval base has been abandoned, the nuclear submarines are rusting and rotting. Cold, isolated, forgotten. Until the Russian Special Forces arrive and discover that the Doctor and his companions are here too.

But there is something else in Novrosk. Something that predates even the stone circle on the cliff top. Something that is at last waking, hunting, killing. Can the Doctor and his friends stay alive long enough to learn the truth?

With time running out, they must discover who is really responsible for the Deviant Strain…

Featuring the Ninth Doctor as played by Christopher Eccleston, together with Rose and Captain Jack as played by Billie Piper and John Barrowman in the hit Doctor Who series from BBC Television.
Published: September 8, 2005
Publisher: BBC Books

Rating:
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Review:
The Doctor, Jack, and Rose find themselves at an abandoned Soviet base, the Novrosk Peninusla, in Siberia, at the aftermath of the Cold War. It’s cold, people are being drained of their life force, and on top of that, the Russian army turn up. Could it get any worse? Add zombies and blobby aliens and yes it can. It’s clear they’re already in trouble.

Can the Doctor save the day?

I always find that Justin Richards writes darker adventures for the Doctor and I love that because not only does it make it flow, but there is never a boring moment and it keeps me interested in the novel. I want to know what’s going to happen next.

Although this is a Ninth Doctor story, I’m so used to the fact that Jack Harkness is now immortal that I forgot he wasn’t at this point in his storyline- so when he was facing death I was just like ‘meh’- because I told myself he couldn’t die.

Sorry Jack!

I admit that it was nice to see him being caring and compassionate towards a young girl who had become the victim of the Deviant Strain, he wasn’t flirting with her, he was genuinely concerned for her and that was a lovely character trait.

I flew through this book like I always do with Doctor Who novels. It was nice to continue the Ninth’s Doctor’s adventures in the form of written fiction, his sassiness lives on!

5/5 stars!

Thanks for reading!
~Katie

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Book Review: The Memory of Midnight by Pamela Hartshorne

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Read between: 13th- 16th of March
Format: ebook
Published: Octoberr 10th 2013
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Rating:
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Review: Nell is a young woman living in 16th Century Elizabethan England. Tess is a thirty something woman living in modern day, but when Tess moves back to York to escape her controlling husband, Martin, she starts to have flashbacks of the past and the two women’s lives become mysteriously linked.

Tess’s flashbacks, are of Nell’s life.

A life of love for Tom, of a forced marriage to his brother. A life of loss.

All the flashbacks seem real, like memories. Is she hallucinating? Is it stress? What is the explanation for why it is happening?

There’s a supernatural element of spirits which wasn’t too in your face so I could deal with that!

Out of the two women, I found Nell far more interesting because the historical setting drew me in more than Tess’ modern one. Nell’s was far more tragic- there was drama in both, but what happened was sad- it reflected how badly women were treated back then. They didn’t have any rights, and it’s horrible.

All Nell was to her husband was property.

It was a great story and I was surprised how much I was gripped by the story. I just wanted to keep reading to find out what happened, and why, and if Tess would ever be free to live her life without Nell.

I really enjoyed it!

4/5 stars.

I’d definitely recommend it, if you like contemporary and historical fiction definitely pick it up!

Thanks for reading!
~Katie

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The Goodreads Book Tag!

I saw this A Book. A Thought. and thought it seemed fun so decided to do it myself! I wasn’t tagged, and I’m not going to tag people s if anyone else wants to do this tag- go ahead!

The last book you marked as ‘read’?

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What are you currently reading?

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What was the last book you marked as ‘to read’?

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What book do you plan to read next?
Thanks to my TBR jar, the next book I’m reading is:

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Do you use the star rating system?

I do! It helps me know which books I love and which I don’t but if I’ve given a half star I have to go lower on the goodreads rating so I feel that I can’t reflect my feelings as much because of the lack of half stars. I use star ratings a lot though!

Are you doing a reading challenge?

I am! I’m currently behind schedule on my goodreads challenge of 60 books but I’m hoping to try and pick up my reading a bit now I’ve got two weeks off of work for a holiday.

Do you have a wishlist?

On amazon, yes!

What book do you plan to buy next?

Well…currently I am on a book buying ban until I have cleared at least 20 books from my TBR but I really want to get the first two books in The Darker Shades of Magic series so I have them all as physical books.

Do you have any favourite quotes?

“A love of books is among the choicest gifts of gods”- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Who are your favourite authors?

  • Giovanna Fletcher
  • Louise Rennison
  • Laurie. R. King
  • Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  • Neil Gaiman
  • Lyndsay Faye
  • Markus Zusak
  • J.K Rowling
  • John Barrowman
  • Rainbow Rowell

I’ve omitted some but the general list includes this lot 🙂

Have you joined any groups?

I have but I’m not as active in them as I’d like to be….

Do you think Goodreads could do better?

Not really, I like it as it is!

Thanks for reading!
~Katie

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Book Review: Les Misérables by Victor Hugo

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Read between: 9th February- 10th March
Number of pages: 959
Format: Ebook
Published: 1887
Synopsis: Introducing one of the most famous characters in literature, Jean Valjean—the noble peasant imprisoned for stealing a loaf of bread—Les Misérables ranks among the greatest novels of all time. In it, Victor Hugo takes readers deep into the Parisian underworld, immerses them in a battle between good and evil, and carries them to the barricades during the uprising of 1832 with a breathtaking realism that is unsurpassed in modern prose. Within his dramatic story are themes that capture the intellect and the emotions: crime and punishment, the relentless persecution of Valjean by Inspector Javert, the desperation of the prostitute Fantine, the amorality of the rogue Thénardier, and the universal desire to escape the prisons of our own minds. Les Misérables gave Victor Hugo a canvas upon which he portrayed his criticism of the French political and judicial systems, but the portrait that resulted is larger than life, epic in scope—an extravagant spectacle that dazzles the senses even as it touches the heart.
Rating: Image result for 4 stars

Review: First of all, this book is beautifully written. The language drew me in. The only reason that I didn’t give this novel five stars was because some of the translations of the original French were left in footnotes at the end of the book so I was either confused or had to flip backwards and forwards- which isn’t so easy on an e-reader.

This book is very large, and is separated into five volumes, which are then separated into various books and chapters so I made notes as I read and it will be those aspects of the story I will be commenting on.

I knew the story a little because I’m a fan of the musical but there was so much more than what is seen on stage and screen.

Volume 1

The first difference to the musical comes at the start, where the reader is introduced to the town of Digne, and it’s bishop. The bishop lives a solitary life with his two sisters (characters that are very minor) until the entrance of Jean Valjean, knewly released, looking for shelter.

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The bishop is a great character, he stands by Jean Valjean, even when he steals from him and makes him swear to live a better life. It just goes to show that compassion can really make a difference. As we know, Jean Valjean later becomes Monsieur Madeline, Mayor of M sur M.

Whilst Valjean is in Digne, we meet Fantine and her friends, working girls and their lovers. We discover what an arse the father of Cosette really was, and that made me feel even more sorry for poor Fatnine. To begin with, she is happy.
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However, I feel her story is the saddest. She gives up her job, her daughter, and her virtue all for the love of Cosette. In the end, I think the promise of seeing Cosette again kept her holding on in life for as long as she could. What they don’t show in the musical, is her devastating end. She is buried in a public grave and forgotten about. To everyone but Jean Valjean, Fantine was a nobody.

Her story is the most heartbreaking 😦

Volume 2

Victor Hugo distracts from the story in this volume when he talks about the history of France  by writing a large section about the Battle of Waterloo to add context- it was nice to learn about it from the French point of view but I did find myself losing interest at times.

We are also led to believe that Jean Valjean died at sea saving a fellow convict, all while Cosette is under the care of the Thenardier’s- as their servant girl.

The Thenardier’s are not the comedy duo of the musical, they’re horrible! I wanted nothing more than to push both of them off the cliff, them and their two daughters (yes two, Eponine has a sister, Azelma) who are equally cruel to Cosette as their parents are.

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I did have a chuckle though when the phrase ‘master of the house’ popped up because I really love the song and it was good to see where the inspiration for the title came from!

It didn’t look to be going well for Cosette when a stranger in the wood offers her help with her bucket of water, but it is the hero of the story, Jean Valjean, alive and well, with a promise to Fantine that he’d take care of her daughter. He takes Cosette, leaves,  and they find a new life in a convent by the end of the volume.

It looks like things are starting to pick up, as no-one can ruin their happiness now. Both are free.

Volume 3

Time passes pretty quickly as you move through the volumes, as Volume 2 left us with eight year old Cosette, but by volume 3, eight years has passed and it is here that we meet Marius, Enjolras, Grantaire, Gavroche and the rest of the revolutionaries.

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The story changes focus too. Now the focus is on Marius.

Marius becomes estranged from his family after taking the title Baron, his father’s, which is grandfather, Monsieur Gillenormand dislikes especially. Marius’ grandfather is actually a very important character in the novel, because he really build up Marius’ personality. It just goes to show that the minor characters of the musical, are far more worthwhile characters in the novel.

I liked that we got to find out more about who he is.

Back to Marius, it after this estrangement, and some minor stalking, that Marius fall in love with Cosette.

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He also finds it hard living next door to some suspicious characters- the Johndrettes. I didn’t need to read on to find out who they really were, it’s obvious, they’re in fact the Thenardiers. It’s Eponine who gives it away.

Eponine and Cosette’s lives have switched. She is now the poor one in rags, and Cosette is the one in the pretty clothes with money to spend.
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Marius discovers the truth about the Johndrettes by spying on them so he goes to the closest police officer. Inspector Javert. Once again though, Javert missing getting his hands on Jean Valjean- even though he wasn’t the target.

Will Javert ever catch his convict?
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Volume 4

There’s a lot going on in volume 4- we find out about Marius’ hatred of Thernardier and his sadness that he might be losing Cosette after all their secret nightly meetings in her garden whilst her father (Valjean) is sleeping.

Evens Eponine tries to keep them together by screaming when her father and his fellow convicts try to rob the house where Cosette and Jean Valjean live.

I did not know that little Gavroche was Eponine’s brother before reading the book. He’s very mature for his age and I admired his childlike bravery which made his death incredibly sad.

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Marius, told he cannot be with Cosette, joins his friends at the barricade and prepares to fight for France. It brings a lot of death. The one death that hurt in the musical also hurts in the novel. That death is Eponine’s.

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She disguises herself as a boy so she can fight alongside Marius- but is shot and in her final moments, admits she hid Cosette’s letter from him. But he isn’t angry.

Why?

She loves him. That always gets to me.

Volume 5

It’s in this volume that little Gavroche is killed :C

Fortunately, Valjean gets to the barricade in time to save a wounded Marius as those around him are killed. Three cheers for Jean Valjean!

Hugo then goes off topic again to discuss the sewer systems of Paris which is in fact relevant- he is clearly a researched author. The relevance comes because Jean Valjean carries an unconscious Marius from the barricade to his grandfather’s house via the sewers, coming across some unwanted obstacles on the way.

Like Thenardier- he really is very hard to like.

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Considering their strained relationship I was glad when M.Gillenormand agreed to let Marius marry Cosette. Two characters perfectly suited because sometimes they could both be really annoying!

Another strained relationship develops between Cosette and Jean Valjean after he told Marius the truth of his identity. However, by the end, Marius has a change of heart thanks to the villainous Thenardier and he Cosette make it just in time to be with Jean Valjean as he dies.

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There’s so much more I could mention but then this review would go on forever!

It took me a while to get through but I ended up really enjoying this book. I knew the musical but the book has so much more, and is so much more detailed and it is definitely worth a read (but it is massive!)

I’d definitely recommend it and I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to finally read it.

4/5 stars!

Thanks for reading! (especially if you go to to the end!)
~Katie

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February Wrap-Up!

I’ve read a total of six books so far this year, so I’m behind on my reading challenge.

That being said, the books I read this month were:

  1. Broadchurch by Erin Kelly- My review is here.
    I gave this book a lower rating (4 stars) only because I had seen the first series of the television series so I know what happened in the end and I have a feeling that made it less enjoyable. It was a good story nonethless though.
  2. Better World by Autumn Kalquist- delving into more sci-fi! My review is here.
    I gave this book 3.5 stars, there were some problems with it but overall I enjoyed it! I need to read more sci-fi because I actually like it.
  3. The final book I read in the month of February was Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson and I loved this book! If you want know my full thoughts you can find my review here. This was the book I gave the highest rating too. It was so cute 😀

 

That’s everything I read last month! What did you read?

Thanks for reading!
~Katie

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