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review 2017-08-27 12:14
A work of originality and brilliance
he - Simon Slater,Hodder & Stoughton UK,John Connolly

When I first heard that John Connolly had written a fictional account of the life of Stan Laurel, based on the latter's  correspondence, I was very intrigued to acquire and read the book. I have the greatest admiration for JC but am more familiar with his creation the anti hero and very troubled detective Charlie Parker the series now having reached book No. 15, each one written with a flair and brilliance that has seen Connolly acclaimed both in Europe and the US, and rightly so. "He" a book giving the reader a glimpse into the amazing and often troubled life of a man who achieved fame and adulation in the early days of the "talkies" ...Stan Laurel. The he in the book is of course "him", the author never uses his stage name simply because Stan Laurel did not really exist and the true essence of the man is somewhere between Arthur Jefferson, his birth name, and his stage name. In order to construct and present Stan Laurel's story Connolly has utilized the massive correspondence that Laurel wrote in his lifetime, a correspondence that although give little if any insight into the true mind and workings of this comic genius, nevertheless presented the author with a blueprint for him to construct, mould and shape the life of Laurel and his undoubted love and respect for his comic partner Oliver "babe" Hardy.

 

This is a wonderful story a warm and affectionate analysis of a man whose existence was never dull, often sad (his son Stan Robert Laurel died at only 9 days old) his liberal attitude to alcohol and his many affairs including in total 4 wives. His only daughter Lois, a product of his first marriage, was born in 1927 and who recently died in July 2017. Reading "He" was akin to a walk through the old Hollywood from the popular birth of silent movies to the often painful upheaval that became the world of the talkies. Laurel and Hardy not only accepted this change but so much of their success happened after the talkie transition including such memorable classics as Way out West, and A chump at Oxford all under the guidance of renowned American Film Producer Hal Roach. "He" is centred around the Oceana apts  in Santa Monica California where Laurel lived until his death, with his fourth wife Ida, and from this base SL reminisces on the events good and bad that shaped his life.

 

From reading the press release before the actual book launch John Connolly states that the idea behind this novel was born in 1999.( In the meantime we the reader have been enthralled by the adventures of former policeman Charlie Parker seeking some form of redemption following the murder of his wife and daughter). It is to the author's credit that "he" has been nurtured, developed, researched and planned as the final product is a work of such originality and imagination. It made me feel that I was eavesdropping into a time and place no longer with us and a world where I became privy to the conversations, the genius, the intellect, and the brilliance of the great Stan Laurel. Many thanks to the publisher Hodder and Stoughton for a gratis copy in return for an honest review and that is what I have written.

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review 2017-06-03 03:17
Wait... that's the end of the book?
The Dark Tower III: The Waste Lands - Stephen King,Hodder & Stoughton UK,Frank Muller

 

 

I have to say that I'm so glad I'm reading this book now that they are all written. This book ended right in the middle of the action, and luckily I can move right on to Wizard & Glass (book 4). If I had to wait, I would be very annoyed with King.

 

 

I loved this book. This is my favorite so far in the series. Loved the characters, the action, the suspense... and especially Oy (the billy-bumbler who is loyal as a dog but also talks). Oy loves Jake and I love Oy. The narrator of the story annoys me at times, but I think I'm getting used to him. And he actually does a good job with Oy's voice. Every time Oy "talks" I smile. I can almost feel how much he loves Jake just in the voice.

 

King is an amazing author and I am a huge fan. I love his horror novels, but I think I love his journeys into fantasy more. The Stand, The Talisman, and now the Gunslinger saga. They are so imaginative and intense. I am awed by his talent.

 

Ok, time to start Wizard & Glass....

 

 

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review 2017-01-17 09:26
A gentle story about families, with no scandals, major shocks, histrionics or extremes
All I Ever Wanted - Lucy Dillon,Hodder & Stoughton

Thanks to NetGalley and to Hodder & Stoughton for providing me with an ARC copy of this book that I voluntarily review.

This novel tells the story of a family, as unique as all families, and it starts seemingly at a point of crisis. What is supposed to be a fun trip to London for the kids, just ahead of Christmas somehow marks the beginning of the end for of Caitlin and Patrick’s marriage. In the aftermath of the separation between them, Patrick’s sister, Eva, who was widowed a couple of years ago, ends up becoming roped into the situation and making interesting discoveries about herself.

The story is told in the third person, mostly from the alternating points of view of Caitlin and Eva, although there are a couple of fragments from the point of view of little Nancy. This is a book dominated by the female perspective, although it is not chick-lit. Each character is very distinctive and the reader gets to share in their point of view, although the alternating voices help to give more perspective to the story and to create a fuller understanding and a richer picture. Whilst at times we might identify completely with the characters and share in their thoughts and feelings, they are not presented as perfect or always right. In fact, it is easy to feel annoyed and frustrated at times with some of the decisions they take, and we start questioning our alliances. But, as is the case with real human beings, nobody is perfect, and in this case, the story helps us understand their circumstances, why they behave as they do. By the end, we conclude that they all love each other, sometimes even if they are not aware of it, but they needed to work through their difficulties communicating and to get rid of the secrets they kept from each other.

The novel offers us two very different female protagonists, Caitlin, reckless, impulsive, disorganised, with a big heart, a fierce mother who’d do anything to protect her cubs, but less than perfect, and aware of her weak points, and Eva, a far more rational, business-like and determined woman. Both of them thought they’d found the perfect husband but they discover things aren’t quite as they think. As mentioned, we might feel closer to one or the other, but they both come through the pages as real people. We share their fears, hopes, puzzlement, even if at times we might not agree with what they do. The two children, Joel and Nancy are beautifully depicted, with their very different temperaments, and they also function well as stand-ins for children in similar situations, trying their hardest to cope and make sense of what’s going on around them. In a way, Nancy and her predicament, when she stops talking, is an embodiment of the difficulties between the adults, who are also keeping secrets and are unable to communicate effectively their feelings, even if they are still talking. The men in the story, although only seen through the perspective of the women, are neither knights in shining armour (no matter how hard they try), nor villains, but good people trying their best to be worthy of their partners and their families. And if you love pets, the two pugs, Bumble and Bee will melt your hearts, with their individual personalities, their ways of communicating and providing a safe haven to humans, and their winning ways.

This is a touching novel that makes us think about families (standard and alternative), about the impact of expectations and childhood experiences on our adult behaviour, and about the risks of trying to impose impossible standards on others. We need to remain true to ourselves to be the best for our families. The author invites us to become members of this extended family and we feel a bit orphaned at the end. I recommend it to anybody who loves . A feel-good story with the heart in the right place.

 

 

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review 2016-10-25 22:55
Presenting Prince Char ;)
The Rat Prince - Bridget Hodder

  This was a cute Cinderella's retelling, with an unexpected main character: Prince Char of the Northern Realm... who happens to be a rat. A royal rat. lol

 

Now Char is an industrious, fast on his little feet, smart prince, who happens to have a soft spot for poor Lady Rose, who has been nicknamed Cinderella by her wicked stepmother... Char is well aware that the well being of his kingdom depends on getting rid of Cinderella's stepmother: the women is dead serious on poisoning all of Char's people. And that, simply cannot be. That is when Char devises a plan. He will help Cinderella get to the ball so that she can meet the prince and hopefully getting him smitten with her. With Cinderella as Queen, Char hopes to at last have some peace at his home. Good plan, right? Now if only Char and Cinderella would understand one another... With the help of a recovered family heirloom, Char and Cinderella end up getting much more that what they were expecting. Like I said this was a cute retelling. Fast paced, well written, I think younger readers will probably have a blast with this. For me the only downside, is that I can't help wishing that the romance had taken longer to develop, and that in the dialogues between the love birds hadn't relied so much on "cheese"... if you know what I mean. Sometimes, less is more. And this is destined for a younger audience so...

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review 2016-10-24 14:03
Lie with Me - Kirk Bage,Sabine Durrant,Hodder & Stoughton UK

Just a little white lie, then another and another until a whole, huge web has been built. The story is told from Paul Morris's point of view. He's 42 years old with a rather high opinion of himself, but he has nothing to show for his life apart from a minor success in the literary world. The word freeloader must have been invented just for this very arrogant man! He is horrible, but then again, so are most of the other characters and I didn't like any of them. The holiday seemed endless and the sense of claustrophobia comes from that. It was an interesting concept, albeit a bit far fetched but the last section was gripping.

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